Running long is a great metaphor for life.
You can go in any direction.
Take it fast or take it slow.
You can set your mind to climb the tallest mountain, plow through a cold stream,
or brace against a ferocious storm.
But in those quiet, tender moments when your feet are moving effortlessly forward,
take in the joyful beauty surrounding you and listen carefully…
for our hands will be clapping in celebration of your wondrous life journey.
We are so proud of you now and who you are yet to be.
Running long is a great metaphor for life…I wrote this as the opening line for my youngest daughter’s 2015 senior yearbook commemorative page. I knew she would “get” my analogy, since we had traveled a path together starting in February of 2012. I had approached her one afternoon, a bit nonchalantly but with inner trepidation, “Heh, I was thinking about running a 10K in my hometown of Prescott this May, do you want to join me?” After some discussion as to WHY I wanted to do this (I’m not an athlete), WOULD I be able to do this (I hadn’t run in my life), and WHAT it would involve (Yes, I’d need to start running), she graciously agreed. We then started to run…with the mindset to run long.
But this story isn’t about how I accomplished my first 10K goal. It isn’t about how I learned that wearing a 100% cotton t-shirt is not the best choice for keeping cool when running 6.2 miles in 80-degree weather. It isn’t about how one should research the terrain and elevation gain before tackling one’s first race. Instead, it is about where I am today and where I will be tomorrow, for the meaning of running long changed as I changed. One mile became two. Two miles became four, four became eight, and so on.
In fact, my whim to run a 10K and check it off my bucket list was more than just setting a goal. That one small decision became a catalyst for amazing life changes, both for my daughter and for me. We acknowledge that we’ve learned a great deal from reading training books and inspirational blogs, volunteering at race events, participating on a cross-country team, attending health conferences, and talking with numerous other runners. Flagstaff, Arizona is a remarkable place for running for obvious reasons and being “born” as a runner here has truly been a blessing.
However, looking back at the figurative trail behind us, I see it hasn’t been a straight path to where we are today and has indeed been filled with ups, downs, and thankfully aid stations. So, where are we exactly? We are a much healthier family. We are more conscious about what we eat and where it comes from. We are a very connected family and embrace the times we spend at races, hiking, and cooking together. We now look at our surroundings and consciously think about how we can live in a better way so that we impact the earth less and positively influence those around us more. This journey has developed our inner global citizen.
In addition, running long allows us to visualize and reflect on where we have been, where we want to be and maybe, most importantly, where we are currently. It has allowed us to plan new goals and has influenced future life decisions. So much so that it pointed my daughter to major in Nutrition Science and become a Registered Dietitian. It is directing me to gently life coach others, perhaps peddle my homemade vegan scones, and write a bit. Who knew that saying “yes” to a joint venture of running a 10K would change us both so dramatically?
Running long changes your body, changes your outlook and changes your life. I lost my running buddy to a university in California two years ago; however, we both continue to love to run. My oldest daughter is now married and attending a school in Omaha for a doctorate in physical therapy. My husband and I moved from our Flagstaff home of 20 years to seek out new adventures in Sedona and Santa Barbara, two active outdoor communities. I am now a vegan of 3 years and a proud graduate of the Main Street Vegan Academy. Our family has personally crossed one finish line to move on to the next. Or perhaps, it is better said that we are each deviating from the current path to explore the endless possibilities of the countless other trails before us. Here’s to running long…and figuring out whom we will be.
As a MSVA lifestyle coach, I feel strongly that regular exercise goes hand in hand with a healthy vegan lifestyle to achieve optimum wellness for all life stages. Sometimes setting a bucket list goal is a fun motivator for getting you outside your comfort zone and discovering a new passion.
Chris Kalinich, VLCE, with Main Street Vegan Academy director Victoria Moran at Chris’s graduation as a certified Main Street Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. Chris is a wife, mom, and vegan runner who, when not busy with her property management company, carries the plant-based message as a vegan cook and cooking instructor and mentor to new vegans. A bi-city resident of Sedona, Arizona, and Santa Barbara, California, Chris delights in hiking, traveling, and writing.