UPS AND DOWNS

"What goes up must come down." We’ve all heard this cliched phrase at least a thousand times, and have probably not stopped long enough to realize that it was the gravitational understandings of the great Sir Isaac Newton that gave us this governing principle way back in the late 1600s. But well over 300 years later, the words still ring as true as ever. Things in this world we live in are perpetually going up and down, like a yo-yo on a string.

Just take a look around us. Gas prices this year went from under $3.00 per gallon up to over $4.00 in some places, and are now back down to under $3.00 again. And as we’ve all had the misfortune of witnessing in the past couple of months, the financial marketplace has had some pretty rough and tumble times. Those of us invested in stocks, bonds, IRAs, 529 Plans and so forth have been through day after day of ups and downs, wondering whether things were ever going to stabilize and the world would make sense again. In the end, we all know that if we stay the course, everything will indeed be just fine. We just have to have confidence, and as George Michael once sang to us, a little bit of faith.

And such is also true when we examine our running over the course of time. Throughout our training, there will invariably be ups and downs, and we may go though longs spells where either nothing seems to go wrong, or things just aren’t going well no matter what we do. Those repeats at the track may seem more difficult than you remembered them, or your legs may feel tired and weary despite your having rested more than you did in the past. Some of this may be attributable to the aging process, yes (see my prior article on "Embracing The Change"). But it may have more to do with the natural rhythms and cycles that we experience as human beings.

Out on the roads, we experience topographical ups and downs all the time, especially here in good ole Orange County (the real O.C., by the way). How many times have we all run a marathon or other destination race where the people complained about the hills, and you said to yourself "Hills? What hills?" We run in Orange County, where aside from the Orange Heritage Trail, it’s difficult to find a flat 3-mile stretch almost anywhere. Ups and downs are what we’re accustomed to. By means of example, think about the Monster Classic in Monticello, or the Goshen 10K, or the upcoming Hudson Valley 15K in Blooming Grove (it’s a doozy, folks). These races give us all a true understanding of what it means to go up and down.

On a personal note, although I have certainly had "up" years recently, 2008 has been a down year for me in terms of my running. Motivation has been lacking much of the time, and my training and racing has suffered as a result. And such as it is. But when I step back and look at the bigger picture, I understand that this is a natural occurrence. I remind myself that I am a runner, and that no matter how the running itself may go, it still belongs to me. And whether I run fast or slow, whether I run races or no races, do lots of weekly miles or just a few, the running has no less value. It still fulfills me just as it always did, bringing confidence, strength and a strong sense of identification.

As we approach the end of another terrific year of running, I hope you will all take stock in yourselves, be mindful of the ups and downs in your running and non-running lives, and resolve to stay the course. No matter what.

I encourage you all to join your fellow Orange Runners Club members at this year’s Jingle Jog (see application form in the Sweat Gazette and on the ORC website) to celebrate the joy of running. December 7th – don’t miss it!

Here’s wishing you all a terrific holiday season.

Todd Jennings
ORC President