KR Endurance athlete and teammate Amy Winstead, shares with us in a guest post about being a part of a team. Her post was originally written for the Sgt. Sullivan Center newsletter:
The Joy of Running for a Higher Purpose
“Isn’t there some sort of special technique?”
“Yeah, you put one leg in front of the other over and over again really fast.”
-Run, FatBoy, Run
I’ll tell you a secret. A secret that world class athletes and weekend warriors know to be true. Stroller Moms know it. Marathoners and road-racers know it. High school track teams know it. Olympians know it. All runners know it to be true but they will be loath to admit it to outsiders…
Sometimes running sucks.
Yes, there’s the pleasure of time outdoors in the sunshine. There are times when your lungs and your legs are so in tuned as to be a symphony of movement and endorphins. Sometimes the birds chirp and the flowers sway atop the rolling hills while happy farmers wave from beneath their large-brimmed hats. Sometimes the world is your playlist and you feel like the cover model from a trendy magazine, sailing along with your perfect stride and relaxed shoulders.
And then there are the days when the wind whistles past your front door and you just don’t want to run. Days when the thought of putting on your shoes is too exhausting. Days when your breakfast doesn’t agree with your intestines and you just hate life. Sometimes the dog poo piles on your running path can’t be avoided or your shorts chafe or your sports bra is failing you and you wonder what power in the universe ever made you think this was a good idea. You begin to seriously consider the health benefits of macramé.
Why would a person continue to run through the exhausting days? Why bother with the shoes and the electrolytes at all? Surely humans are rational enough to stay away from voluntary discomfort…
Here’s another secret: modern humans crave work. I mean real work, not cubicle-fight-over-the-stapler work, but sweaty-move-something-heavy-and-be-proud work. We just don’t get enough of that in this modern life. We see that we have muscles but we don’t use them. We want to use them. We want to work, we want to make a difference, we want to affect the kind of change that can never happen while sitting in the drive-thru for a $5 coffee. We want to get dirty and sweaty and possibly sun-burnt because this is honest work that cannot be bought.
Running provides the opportunity to work honestly toward a tangible goal. We can run towards a timed, distance, or health goal and they can all be quantified. It can all be counted as honest effort, honest work. We can feel our humanity within our sweat and our thumping hearts.
When we choose to run for a greater purpose with a team we are at our very best, our most human. We are striving. As a part of a team we are afforded the added momentum of the herd. We are thunderous in our footsteps that may otherwise feel hollow to our own ears. It may be raining but the team is counting on us to carry out the mission. We may be tired but the team is moving out and we will not be left behind. Standing on one side of the door we are ourselves: weak, tired, reluctant. When we open the door to the windy day and face the rain, the cold, the exhaustion, and take that first step we are no longer ourselves. The willful step out the door makes us legion. Now we may be tired, cold, or reluctant but we are never again alone.
And we cannot quit. We cannot fail. We cannot stop because once the our footfalls are in cadence with the team, once we have shed sweat and tears together, once we have pledged an oath we are not just for ourselves. We have committed to the greater purpose of Something Else. As a team we can move mountains and forge canyons. We can affect the change that lesser men only whisper of.
“SGT Sullivan Center is a non-profit organization who’s aim is to bring to light veteran’s issues and illnesses. SSC uses only privately donated funds (no government money!) to sponsor scientific, peer reviewed research; this research is used to engage government organizations and bring to light the toxic wounds of war which should never be ignored. If you’d like to find out more, join the team, and/or make a donation follow this link: