I went for a run on my lunch break today. I ran about 3.5 miles along the wonderful river trail here in Bend. It was great, there were tons of people out and about doing the same thing. It is a very privileged town… and I’m lucky to have both a job and access to do both of these things on a regular basis.
Almost every day I see somebody who is exercising and staring at their phone while they walk. Almost every day I see somebody who is talking on the phone while they walk/run. Almost everyday I see people who can’t even be bothered to give a courtesy wave as we cross paths. It’s kind of a bummer, because the trail is just magical. Beautiful ponderosa pine, manzanita, rushing water, squirrels chittering away. Truly a natural paradise just steps out the door. I see all this glory and think they are missing out, but to each their own.
The cool thing is that almost every day I see the same guy while I’m out running. He is about my height (5’9), but easily weighs 100 pounds more than me (this is not meant as a judgey statement, just a statement of fact). This man, who is probably in his 50’s or 60’s, has a fantastic routine. He rides his bike part of the way up the trail (~ half mile, plus wherever he started from), then locks his bike up and swims down the river (for a 100 yds or so), then walks back up and does it again and again (~ 4x). It absolutely kicks his ass, but he does it almost every day. He is noticeably losing weight. I always give him a thumbs up and a “nice work” as I go past. He at least politely smiles and laughs (I hope he is okay with it).
I don’t know this man’s story, his history or even why he is out there every day. I don’t know why he chose this workout routine. I don’t know how he can stand that cold ass water! I do know that he is out there exercising (when it is truly an effort) and I know he is working hard. I also know that his efforts inspire me to push just a little harder and put in just a little more effort. This guy, who is just going about his routine and living his own life is inspiring to me. That’s awesome!
I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to run at lunch. I’m fortunate to have my health and well being. I don’t do it each day, but I’m trying. I feel better, look better and am more productive when I do. It truly is an honor to have the opportunity to get out and exercise. I need to not take that for granted!
My takeaway from all of this is that when you are out running or exercising: Put down the phone, say hi, and enjoy the natural splendor (or don’t), but do know that we all affect each other in different and subtle ways. We are all part of this great big journey. We are all in this together. What do you want your effect to be?