Aaron's Rules

Nonrunner mustread too...

If you know me, then you know I offer propositional truth. Regularly. Even unsolicited. A buddy picked up on this habit in regard to running & began to say something like, "There's another of Aaron's Rules for Running." In his honor, I decided to record a few.
  1. The Unalienable Rule. We hold these truths to be self-evident that NOT all runners are created equal. We have the right to life, liberty & the pursuit of PRs, but we all do not possess the same physical abilities. So, inasmuch as we measure running by time, distance, calories, & other metrics, we must remember that we are not all created equal. Noncomparison is the first rule of happy, lifelong running.
  2. The Failure Rule. Failure to plan is a plan to fail. Have a training plan. Your plan may be determined by your personal fitness goals or preparing you for your next race. Have some variety & purpose to keep it fresh. This rule has a negative sounding name to remind you of its positive value.
  3. The Elephant Rule. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, states the cliche. Consistency is key for running success. If you are going to run a marathon for instance, then you need six months to a full year's training. You need a plan. Rule #2. Followed day after day, one bite at a time, to be properly prepared for the distance. Africans don't like to eat elephant. This is just a catchy phrase to remind us that consistent effort accomplishes much.
  4. The Nike Rule. Just do it! It rings true, that is why it's one of the greatest marketing slogans of all time. If you have the miles planned, the time, permissible weather, & no illness or injury preventing you from running, then just do it! If you make an excuse now, then you can make one later or some other aspect of life will crowd in. Rule #4 is the will behind Rule #3.
  5. The Mailman Rule. Don't be a sissy! Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor gloom of night get out there & run. The more challenging, the better. Running against the elements & proving yourself versus nature is one of the joys of running. Get out there with the right gear, however. Be sure to refer to Rule #7.
  6. The Hamster Rule. If you must, then get on the mill. Some folks like treadmills. Climate controlled, predictable, TV. Don't take my last rule with too much machismo--sometimes it's just smart to stay indoors. Just in case you need examples: ice; thunderstorms; temps or windchills below zero; tornadoes; hurricanes; etc.
  7. The Paine Rule. As in Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. If in doubt, use your common sense. Something hurts? Your body is telling you there is a problem! Slow down or stop. Ask for advice or assistance. Icy surfaces? Take care. A little fall could cost you a lot of running & cash too. Head-cold?As long as your congestion is from the neck-up you can run. Double-pneumonia? Don't even think about it!
  8. The .92 Rule. Yes, you read that right. It's 92/100th. It's less than one. But it is a BIG one to obey. In short it can be interpreted as: know where you are going; follow the map; don't follow the guy in front of you; don't get lost. Benefit from my experience & have a laugh too.
  9. The Shrink Rule. Sweat equals sanity. There may never be a need for a psychiatrist or counselor in the life of a runner as long as we can get out & run. We are creatures of habit & familiarity of the miles provides a sanctuary to process life with no shrink or couch needed.
  10. The 12:11 Rule. Avowed nonrunners like to point out that runners don't look too comfortable while running. This is true, but you also hear us gush in runese & refer to Runner's World as if it were the Bible. Hebrews 12:11 of THE Bible states, "At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it is the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God." Running takes discipline, but it pays off.
  11. The Together Rule. Some of us like the solitude & others like a group, but I'd encourage every runner to run with others from time to time. Just remember Rule #1, slow down or speed up as needed, & have fun along the way. Running together has lots of great benefits. Encouragement, learning, companionship, & accountability are just a few. We are better together.
  12. The Right Shoe Rule. If you are a beginning runner, then this may be THE most important rule to follow. Running is a pounding. The wrong shoes lead to injuries. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to your nearest running specialty store (NOT a big box sporting goods store, but the real professionals.) Buy the shoes they recommend for you. It's not about brand, color, or price; it's only about the right shoe.
Did you notice how all these rules apply for the race of life too?

You might want to reread my rules replacing run/running with live/living.

Run on!

Live on!

Enjoyed this post? Please share it. And don't miss Aaron's Rules—Marathon Edition with more wisdom earned in training for & completing the iconic 26.2 mile distance four times.

(NOTES: 1. The above photo was taken after running 7 miles at 3 degrees on 12/16/08. It was awesome! And, yes, that is sweat-ice sparkling on my cap & eyebrows! 2. PR = Personal Record. Some of that runese language.)

Moon Over Soweto

September 9, 1992 I landed in Johannesburg with my sleepy eyes wide open. A Journeyman Missionary. For the next two years. In Soweto. Twenty-plus formal & informal settlements that made up the SOutherWEstern TOwnships of apartheid-era South Africa. Over one million Africans. Add this one Texan.

I hit the ground running. Soccer on day one had the low-altitude Texan gasping dust at the altitude higher than a mile. Samp -- spicy, smashed lima beans -- & Ginger Beer -- think ginger ale with a wicked ginger punch -- on day two had me praying the missionaries prayer, "Lord, I'll put it down if you help me keep it down." And driving on the other side of the road on day three had my boss praying anything he could muster while he rode in the passenger seat!
Six weeks into my term I was past the "tourist stage" where everything different that was quaint a few days before is now an annoyance because "These folks just don't think or act or talk right! Agh!" Then I had a wreck.
Guy behind me is googly-eyed with his girlfriend. I stopped. He didn't -- soon enough. Swerve. Skid. Then. That terrible sound. Crushing metal.
Every Journeyman has heard the phrase. The Career Missionaries may not even realize how it sounds so contemptible. "Just a Journeyman." Implied -- not a RLM -- Real Life Missionary. As if because you are younger you are somehow less responsible. Any misstep gets you labeled as "Just a Journeyman."
My wreck. Not my fault. My first big failure. Wasn't even my fault. But. Brought the label. Just a Journeyman. Brought the shame. Just a Journeyman. Brought the despair. Just a Journeyman.
All the ideals. All the hopes. All the dreams. All that. Can be crushed. Just like a door in the way of collision bound Googly-eye.
We were having revival meetings for our little squatter camp church that week. A big yellow & white striped tent sat in the shack church yard. Yellow & white shining like the sun. Amidst brown, grey, dingy, rusty squatter shacks. A symbol of the Gospel. A symbol of hope.
Yet that night I stood outside the tent. Outside in the cool evening. Wanting to shelter my ears from the boisterous revival singing. Wanting to hide my eyes from the joyous faces. I had no joy that night. Only despair. Only regret.
I stood outside the tent plotting. To give it up. To go home. Face down. Dejected. Then I felt like a cartoon. As if two little beings alighted upon my shoulders. Redsuit devil guy with tail & pitchfork on one shoulder. Blond haired & haloed headed angel girl in a white robe on the other. Both whispering in my ears.
"Go home. You're a failure. You aren't made for this." Said redsuit.
"God called you. You can. You will make it." Said halogirl.
"You don't belong here!," said redsuit.
"Look up!," said halogirl.
"These people don't really like you," said redsuit.
"Look up!," repeated halogirl.
I interrupted the cartoon argument. "I don't wanna look up. I just wanna go home."
"LOOK UP!," she demanded.
I did.
I saw the moon. The moon rising over one million souls. The moon filling the horizon. The moon glowing molten nickel. The moon over Soweto.
Cartoons gone. The Holy Spirit of God spoke with authority Psalm 8:3-5.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon & the stars which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory & honor.
He continued. Speaking words just for me. From the Father.
I made you.
You are mine.
I called you.
You will love.
They will love you too.
That moon you see is the work of my fingers. You, my son, are made a little lower than angels. You are my creation. You are mine. You are called. Now serve. Now love.

I did not go back in that big yellow & white striped tent.
I stood there.
I could see the joyful faces of enthusiastic singing as I looked in. Yet I was in a quiet place all unto myself.
I wept.
The God of the universe loves me. He made me. He has called me. And now... now... He has affirmed me.
He loves you too.
He has called you too.