Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rick Gue and I are different from one another.  When we talk about our favorite subject, running, there are some things about which we disagree.

I began running when I was fourteen, at a time when I desperately needed an identity.  Too small for traditional sports, running became a way to measure myself athletically.  In a short time I became known as the kid who ran fast, and I liked that.

Even as a young man, I worked hard to maintain that image.  Races were my measuring stick.

In time, I realized my fast days wouldn’t last forever and I began to approach racing more methodically.  I became focused and purposeful.  Defined goals were important because I wanted to get the most from every workout.

By contrast, Rick started running when he was thirty years old.  At the time, he was smoking more than a pack a day and drinking beer almost every night.  

Just several years earlier, his father began having heart problems.  He smoked too, and Rick made the connection between his own habits and his father’s ill health.  He began running to escape a future he was too scared to face.

We met when Rick began coming to Flying Feet for Saturday runs.  Some local runners don’t want to commit to the entire program and “The Saturday Club” allows those people to join the group once a week.  Rick used this as a chance to have company for his longer runs.

I knew immediately that he wasn’t looking for direction.  He’s playful, almost reckless in his approach to running.  He doesn’t want to be confined to a specific goal; he enjoys being spontaneous, going wherever any run might lead him. 

As a coach, I teach discipline.  I apply the concepts of sustainable development, knowing that most runners want to run and improve for as long as possible.  Almost all people want structure; they want a proven path to follow.

And yet, here I was, faced with a runner who was looking for the opposite of what I offer. 

It’s not that I’m responsible for Rick; I don’t provide detailed coaching to Saturday Club members.  But at first it was hard to admit that his approach seemed to be working for him.

It’s easy to take all the things you believe, wrap them up tightly, and hold on for dear life.  But then you confine yourself to your own ideas, and deflect other realities.

The late Steven Covey said, “People see the world, not as it is, but as they are.”  It took far too long, but I finally understand the brilliance of that simple insight.

I run toward the things I want to become.  Rick runs away from what he doesn’t.  Even though we run in opposite directions, we could both end up in the perfect place.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we help each other get there.