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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Red Bandana: DeStressing Through a Long Saturday Run

(See my current article: The Red Bandana: An Argument for Walking)

Have you ever been where no one is? A mile in front of you, and a mile behind, there is no one? Just you, maybe a few starlings, and the wind?

Imagine a long week at work. The boss was getting down on you because she found a typo in your report. An accident on I-290 added an hour to your day's commute. A client was playing games with an invoice, and is over 30 days late. And someone stole your lunch from the company fridge. That was just Monday morning. Through the rest of the week, things just went from "Ugh," to "Argh!"

You have got the blues. You can feel it. Your neck is tight. Your legs feel stiff from sitting in a cubicle. You sense a kind of anger even when there is nothing to bother you. There's dinner tonight with neighbors, but a few laughs with good friends won't suffice. In fact, you've grown weary of people. But this is Friday. Tomorrow's Saturday.

On Saturday morning, the alarm buzzes when things are still dark. The sun peaks up. It is almost warm at 41° F. The cup of coffee was good and now it is time. You head to Herrick Lake in Warrenville, or to Springbrook Prairie in Naperville. The marathon was last week, and besides, they were training on the Illinois Prairie Path. Not today. The parking lot is empty.

You're laced up, wearing shorts, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and of course, a red bandana, you align yourself with what will be the next hour. The mile marker pole says '0' and someone scratched a line in the crushed white limestone. This is no race, however. No other runners are standing aside you, and you see none in any direction: not this way, not that. Just you and those starlings. Or are those robins? It doesn't matter.

An adventure is ahead. Things will hurt. A heel, a calf, a thigh. Or maybe, you will just be tired. The last three miles will be a struggle, especially with that long slope. Still, you remember what George Sheehan once said, "Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing." It will be worth it.

No starter's gun compels you to begin, you take the first step, and the next. It will be a mile before you find your rhythm. You aren't running to enjoy the first mile, but to soak in the following six. Those are why you are hear at the cusp of dawn. You know, away from work, away from people, this is your solace.

Running Song of the Week
On Broadway by George Benson, 1978

A man has a dream to play his guitar professionally. He has the skills, but it is a difficult road. Defiant, he will not be deterred or discouraged. Run today with this same passion, whether you are losing weight, or thinking about a marathon.

"They say that I won't last too long on Broadway
I'll catch a grey hound bus for home they all say
But they're dead wrong I know they are
'Cause I can play this here guitar
And I won't quit till I'm a star on Broadway."

Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. Recently divorced from his couch, he looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. Find out more at

For more about my running adventures, see A Runner’s Dilemma (workout details, videos and more):

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

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