Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Run?

Snapshot of the trailhead at Camp Horizon where we train.
Since taking up running recently, I've been asked numerous times by co-workers and friends why I would pick a sport that takes as much effort and conditioning as trail running.  So, I thought I'd take a moment to put into words what has led me to where I am...and the proverbial trail I'm headed down.

About 3 years ago, I picked up a book that a buddy had recommended I read - Wild At Heart by John Eldredge.  Until a little over a year ago, the book had remained tucked away on a shelf in my home office, all the while collecting a fine layer of dust.  After finishing another of my books, I was shuffling others around trying to find something worth investing a little nose time in.  Recalling it was a 'recommended' book by a friend, I picked Wild at Heart and began reading.  Although I would hesitate to say it profoundly shaped my life, it did awaken in me the idea that I had distanced myself from the very nature that God had created me to commune with.

I was raised on a small 40-acre farm in Lyon County Kansas, neatly situated between the little rural towns of Olpe and Hartford.  Throughout much of my childhood I can reflect on countless days spent roaming alone through the woods that ran behind our house, crunching through the underbrush during the fall, and breaking out my pole to fish the spring-fed back pond when the weather began to warm up in spring.  We didn't have a central a/c unit in our house, and only turned on the window unit when it reached extreme temperatures, so when the sticky hot days of summer came along, I'd load my little brothers into a yard wagon and I'd tow them down with the riding mower to the back of our property to swim in the creek.

As I grew older and hit high school, we moved off the farm and into town (Olpe) and I spent more and more time indoors - going to school, washing dishes in a local restaurant, and getting hooked on computer games and TV. Looking back, I was never even aware I had gradually walked away from an intimate relationship with nature.

While examining the origins of my faith, when we look at the life of Adam, we see a man who at every turn in his life was intimately engaged with the land in which he lived.  Prior to their fall from the Garden of Eden, he and Eve were immersed in a paradise which I imagine made the rainforests of Brazil look like offshoots of scraggly sagebrush.  After snacking on the now infamous fruit, he and Eve were cast out from the Garden and sent off to live a life toiling in the dirt struggling to make crops survive.

Since the dawn of time, mankind has been integrally linked with the earth, depending on its bounty for nutrition, shelter, clothing, and our very survival.  While we still have a dependance on the earth for the basic necessities of life, we find ourselves in an era where our food is as manufactured as the vehicles we drive and arguably more dangerous.  That however is a rant for another blog at another time.

So here I find myself at 30 years old, out-of-shape, overweight, and looking for a way to reconnect with the memories and fond experiences the outdoors held for the years of my youth.  Last year, through the mentorship of my church pastor, aka Pastor James, I spent several early mornings creeping through a field with him up and climbing up a two-man tree stand to bow-hunt deer.  Granted, I didn't get a deer last year, but at the end of the day it was less about bagging a doe and more about spending time observing nature at work. 

Trail at Camp Horizon - about 1.5 miles in.
Why I have now taken up running all comes down to the fact that in some primal and innate way, I just miss being outside.  I miss the scent of rain just minutes before it arrives. I miss the smells of burning pastures and fresh cut alfalfa.  Most of all, I miss the sounds of life that accompany a quiet walk or jog by myself through the woods.  I've recaptured pieces of these, and as I continue to strive to reconnect with nature, this time around I won't be foolish enough to let go.

No comments:

Post a Comment