It’s 6am on a Monday morning in June, and the year is 2011. I’m barely 14 years old, and am sitting on blacktop in the parking lot of my soon to be new school Martin Luther King High School. I’m nervous, intimidated, unsure, and half asleep. The head coach, Coach Peters, is giving his first ‘inspirational talk’, the first of many to come.
There are two things that I remember from what he said that day. The first was that his inspirational talk included an umbrella, and a relevant story that went with it. I think it was about not giving up. The second was that he said we might marry someone sitting with us on that blacktop. I simultaneously looked around me and avoided eye contact.
While I am still friends with a few of those teammates, I don’t intend to marry them. But I think what Coach Peters had to say that day meant something more. He meant that we were entering into a special community of people, starting right there, with our fellow Wolves.
And he was right.
What I value most about my high school running days, were the life lessons that that team taught me. It also taught me I could connect everything back to running, which is one of the main reasons why I’ve stuck with it for so long. So here are the three most important lessons I learned, and what my running practice is founded on, based on my experience as a Wolf.
- Determination: From waking up early, to finishing a 10 mile run (16km), to running even when it’s too cold/hot/windy/dark, determination is everything. Giving up is easy, but getting over that hill, or running through that wind, will make me feel so much better about myself! I’ve been able to take these experiences and apply them to other parts of my life. When I’m going after that job, finishing that paper, or moving to a foreign land and wondering if I’ll survive.
- Spirituality: By God’s grace do I have the ability to run, and sometimes, I forget that not everybody has two working legs and lungs that allow them to do it. The human body can withstand so much, it’s incredible. Enduring a tough run puts me face to face with my Creator, and triumphing over one makes me realize we did it together. All things are possible through Him, and running has shown me that.
- Accountability: There’s something special about that person who shows up when they say they will, no matter what. And I’ve noticed that most of my running friends possess this trait. Running has taught me to follow through even when the going gets tough, because I said I would. Honoring one’s commitments isn’t always easy, but it shows respect to others, and to myself.
King set the precedence of the importance of a strong community and mentality, and that is what continues to shape me.