The journey of a runner often begins with a goal and slowly manifests itself into a lifestyle. It grabs a hold of you in a way that circumvents explanation and forces you into a partnership with your surroundings. It allows you take notice of the seasons, but most of all, it allows you to experience them.
Running has its benefits in terms of health and fitness, but what often goes unnoticed is its discrete ability to foster a greater appreciation for the world around you. I never really appreciated the seasons and what each one uniquely had to offer before I became a runner. For example, in the spring I get the opportunity to run among the aroma of freshly bloomed flowers and soft wind caressing my skin. I notice every butterfly and bird as I run against a picturesque backdrop. I become grateful for a season like the spring in that it provides me with perfect running weather along with serenity filled thoughts of bliss.
The summer, with the grueling heat, can often halt me immediately in my tracks, but somehow provides me with a sense of strength. On the days when the sun is sitting high among the bright blue cloudless sky, I can’t help but be enthralled by its beauty. Children are enjoying the days when they are free from the confines of school and simply enjoying their youth. Their laughter serves as a reminder of a time when I was once free of stress and worry. In those moments I too become a child again and I run with a vitality once believed to only be reserved for my younger years. I challenge the heat. I run against it. I run with it.
Cooler winds signal the return of fall and comfortable running outdoors. Squirrels endearingly attempt to run into my path and chuckle as I pass by. The leaves, in wonderful shades of reds, oranges, yellows and browns, sway amongst the branches and wave. They often sit scattered against the concrete trail and crunch beneath my every step, crumbling into thousands of pieces, yet their beauty remains constant.
Soon the cool air gives way to frigid cold fronts and cooler temperatures. The leaves disappear and suddenly everything goes quiet. There is a peace centered on each run and, although it is cold, it is comfortable. The chill in the air becomes therapeutic and I begin to understand the meaning of what it is to run in anything and everything. The loveliness of my surrounding is no longer in the trees, the green grass, or a bright blue sky, but rather it is in me. It is in the fact that I am still running.
The seasons pass too quickly and I have found that it is best to enjoy them as often as possible, because with the seasons so go the years and I am determined to live each one to the fullest. For now that means running on a beautiful spring day, struggling through a summer run, becoming re-energized in the fall air and finding myself in a winter blast. Life is too short to let it pass me by so for now I will just keep running with the seasons.