Introduced to the Warrior through Running.
I love to run. I used to say I hated running. But I haven’t been entirely honest in that regard. When I was younger, I did dread actually running. However, it’s not true that I hated all aspects of running. Also true is that just in the past few years that I have grown to love running. However, as a young man, I was introduced to the magic of self-transformation through running.
When I was younger, we had to run all the time, and I hated it. I’ve always maintained that I had hated it. Now, however, running is something that I do for the love of it. Last year, with work projects, kids schedules, general craziness, one week off from training led to another. Eventually, it became four months of no training whatsoever–it caused a lot of guilt feelings. So how did it come to pass that I went from dreading, to now loving running? That is a longer story. I would like to look at one moment in that journey. Lets go back in time to my first discovery of the deeper benefits of running.
In the Army, we ran virtually every day. My unit was marked by a particular hardass mentality. We ran fast, long & often. Frequently, I felt like my chest would burst. Also, running in the different training schools was stressful because to fall out of runs was to get kicked out of the programs. There was one particular school where the runs were particularly brutal. They would start out fast, and get faster. They would be for unknown distances, so pacing was impossible, and made the runs even more mentally grueling. Fall out of three runs, and you were out (or at least on your way to the pogue Army) There came a point where if I fell out of one more run, I would be in the shit squad. The instructors took me and another fellow aside for a talking to. I didn’t fall out of anymore runs. The runs didn’t get easier. The pace didn’t slow. I didn’t all of a sudden become a good runner.
What changed? A switch tripped in my head. Or more accurately, in my gut–It was gut check time. Every run from that point on was a pure gut check. Interestingly, I gained a sense of pride and confidence from tripping that switch. I learned something about myself that day. I knew in my heart that, should I need to, I could gut my way through with sheer will power. A confidence I’ve come to rely on a few times since. A confidence and a knowledge of self I gained through running. My first real introduction to being a Warrior.
It was an introduction to a certain type of self-transformation. I don’t have a name for it, but it entails looking into your soul, digging down and just pulling something out. Before that point you didn’t know that Thing existed. But you need it and now its here. After going through that experience many times, you begin to be able to rely on it. It bolsters you in the face of fear and doubt. It warms you on cold nights when you awake in the woods covered in snow. It provides a bubble of calm when chaos is erupting around you. The mind set of the Warrior.