TSFJ Run Challenge: Escaping The Cubicle And Competing With Friends


We've all heard a variation of the following cliche before, most often when an athlete faces difficult situations in his or her life away from sports: "The field/court/rink/course provides a place of solace, where the athlete doesn't think about anything but the game/match/round."

For the overwhelming majority of individuals on this great planet of ours, our jobs don't give us quite the same respite. Eight hours in a cubicle certainly don't provide the type of focused distraction that allows my worries to melt away. If anything, at times it can make matters worse.

That means we mere mortals have to find another place to get away for a while and put the complexities of life on hold. For me, that place is on the riverside path, open road, winding trail, looping track or even on occasion the sweatbox-housed treadmill. When I go out for a run, I don't think about bills or relationship struggles or the health failings of my friends and family. I don't think about work or my future or the pain and strife in the world. All I think about it going the extra mile, literally, about finishing what I started, about focusing on the task at hand.

I've been running on and off now for more than a decade, really putting it on my agenda during my college years. The more I've gotten into it, the more I've appreciated it. Running truly gives me a chance to focus in a way that the most competitive folks on earth do.

Those feelings have only been amplified by TSFJ Run Challenge. This health initiative spearheaded by our own Joe Simmons and Kenny Masenda hasn't exactly changed my life the way it has for others, but it has been invaluable to me on a personal level. In addition to the freedom to let go and run, the competition this challenge has bred gives me that feeling I used to get — and still do in my own old, pathetic way — during a soccer game or little league contest as a youth. My competitive spirit takes over, and I focus solely on the task at hand. Sometimes that task involves simply getting in a quick run to increase those miles. Other times, it's to hit a new personal best or surpass a friendly foe.

In fact, it's help breed a healthy competition between Kenny and me, pushing each other to keep going and going and going.

Of course, running is healthy for your body, and honestly, that's the reason I began running in the first place. And while the physical benefits are nothing to sneeze out, I've become addicted to the challenge for the mental reasons.

It really does become mind over matter when you push through the pain, something that you can't do without mental resolve. You focus on that pain, on that ache, on that difficult task and just keep on going. There's something indescribable yet serene about the entire experience.

And of course, it's that escape, that place where you can go and forget about your worries for a mile or two or 10.

The challenge also awakens that competitive spirit that most sports fans have. We've grown up playing sports, watching sports, competing at anything and everything. The older we get, the harder it is to find those type of adrenaline-inducing competitions, particularly activities you can fit in on a near daily basis. Thankfully, Joe and Kenny have given me that opportunity with the TSFJ Run Challenge, and it's one I don't take lightly.

Every day, I now have that competition, and every day, I know there's that run out there to help me escape for a while, all while running down the competition and growing stronger with each and every stride.

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