I was born to run. For me, running is one of life’s purest joys.
I run eight miles every other weekday (with weightlifting in-between). And on the weekends, 12 to 22 miles. A 48-hour cycle isn’t complete without a run unless I’m on an airplane. Work doesn’t start until after a morning run. If, heaven forbid, a morning run doesn’t happen, it’s pure anxiety waiting until after work to get in those miles.
Laying those steps behind me in the morning rewards me with a relaxed, confident, energized attitude to handle whatever comes my way in the day. Those eight miles under my belt makes everything else easy. Running isn’t about the run itself. It’s about everything else.
My First Race
When my brother and I were young, our parents signed us up each year for Frankenmuth’s annual 4th of July Volkslaufe race. (German for “The People’s Race”) We started out when we were only ages 5 and 7 in the 2-kilometer kids’ fun run. Training was a few runs down the driveway since we weren’t allowed on our country road yet at that age. I remember taking the race so seriously that as my dad ran alongside me the first time. I started out way too fast, earnest and excited, and he had to explain the importance of slowing down a bit to save some energy for the full two kilometers.
The annual Volkslaufe was the only time I ramped up training during my youth, outside of my participation in sports. When I graduated from college, freeing up some time, I committed to running every other day, regardless of any scheduling obstacles or conflicts. For those who exercise regularly – committing is the key.
Why Do I Love Running?
Running is my time, a special hour or more carved out for me. It separates me from work, leisure, and volunteer commitments. In that me-time, my mind can roam freely. I create, prioritize, ponder, problem-solve, or just enjoy the beauty of nature at sunrise. (Even trodding eight miles in pouring rain is well worth it.)
Going The Distance
My running really ramped up in college after my mom completed her first 20-kilometer run in the Volkslaufe. I couldn’t imagine being out there on the roads as long as she was while she trained for it, but she inspired me to experience that myself. The long distance was invigorating and quite spiritual; I was transformed after every outing.
After my first 20K, I realized that twice that distance is basically a full marathon. So why not make the easy leap from a 90-minute 20K to a 3-hour 26.2 mile fun run? Experienced long-distance runners know that after regularly pushing past 90 trying minutes, the body seems to break free and not know when to stop moving on. After 3-hour or longer training runs, I remember returning home and joking my body had to keep jogging because it didn’t know what else to do after doing the same thing so long. And as most marathoners will attest, after finishing your first 26.2, you immediately say to yourself that you’ll ‘never do that again’. Then about 5 seconds later you realize you’re addicted and craving the next epic marathon experience! As a result, you wonder where and when it will be?! And if it can come soon enough!
Running Half And Full Marathons
Marathon running has taken me across the states and across the world, too. From running shirtless in Iceland and Scotland (I only wear my “famous” shorts, if the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more) to doing the same marathon 5 years in a row, I have so many memories to cherish and relive. Those aforementioned shorts are a crazy pattern of patriotic red-white-and-blue flowers and luau girls. They’ve become my signature “costume,” and people remember me by those shorts.
My mom usually runs the half-marathon whenever I run the full one. Our travels are a good getaway from work, but we have certainly studied plenty of Christmas decor during holiday-season runs, too. Whenever I travel, I run every day to explore the new scenery, as running makes unknown territory familiar very quickly. The sounds and sights and places I have discovered afoot were even better than some of the trips’ other highlights.
My Favorite Experiences
Unquestionably, my favorite 26.2 experiences include the Traverse City Bayshore Marathon. There’s nothing like peacefully gliding along Old Mission Peninsulas’s rolling eastern coast with the cooling lake refreshing me as I am alone and ahead of the small pack of participants.
Another favorite, and polar-opposite, is New York Marathon. Picture 50,000 runners traversing over five bridges through five boroughs with two million roadside spectators screaming you along on your metropolis-wide tour. On the race weekend in New York, you can reach your hands into the air and feel the energy pulsating all around. It was amazing to return to New York for a second run with my brother for his first marathon.
The Benefits Of Running
A few decades and 50 marathons later a few things have changed and I’ve learned many lessons along the way. Thankfully, in part due to my parents, I’ve been reaping running’s benefits ever since.
Running lends you the identity and the voice inside your head that together make it easier for you to make better choices. As a result, committing to health has so many benefits. Like helping you choose a healthy diet, aim for enough sleep, be in tune with and aware of your body and its incredibly complex systems that sustain you. As well as making other choices that are sure to enhance your best athletic performance.
Despite the distance, running, jogging, walking, or any exercise pays loads of benefits and bonuses everyone is always looking for. All that training helps to put things (and tasks) in perspective so that large projects seem much smaller and easier to complete.
On long distance runs, you’re able to see the big picture and the minute details – the massive distance covered but also every single step in the road that you take to complete it. That learning parallels into every other project in life, be it professional or personal. If you think running is hard, it may be, but it makes everything else so easy! Moreover, running is something BEYOND a physical accomplishment. It is a mental endeavor that helps you learn what your mind can achieve, including putting mind over matter, and pushing your body beyond your own limited conclusions of its potential.
Devoted runners realize people often aren’t looking to add extra responsibilities or complexities to their routine. It’s always hard enough just to get work done, let alone working harder to figure out how to get it done better. Regular running and other workouts, or even participating in activities like the arts on a consistent basis, help one prioritize what is important in personal and professional projects, eliminating time wasted on trivial things that won’t be productive. If an hour is taken out of your day for a run, you intrinsically and instinctively plan every other remaining minute that much more critically and effectively to polish off priorities. Knowing time is limited helps you realize the most important functions and their outputs to maximize your efficiency.
Clarity & Creative Problem Solving
Another benefit of running is that it also enhances performance of other tasks throughout the day by helping one to plan, gain a clear focus, and tackle challenging problems through creative brainstorming. (I often work out the details of Bronner’s catalog during my runs.) Among other pieces I author, I regularly write a column in our local newspaper for the Frankenmuth Farmers Market, an organization I helped start and for which I still volunteer. (I share more on my love for farmers markets in this post) At the market I also cook and cater different fundraising dinners and special occasions I am hired for. The most insightful articles have been inspired on my runs, and my most creative menus, even full-blown, 18-course experimental and experiential culinary engagements, have come entirely as a result of running.
Making The Move To Triathlons
Biking came easy since I bike to work to save gas and the environment. Thanks to YouTube videos, I learned how to swim a few weeks before diving into my first Olympic-distance triathlon. Oh, the lessons learned! A few triathlons into my never-ending journey, I’ve improved to finish in the top 10-20% (still not as good as the top 3% I usually finish in for running races).
The most refreshing aspect of triathlons is that everyone has a different skill level in swimming or biking or running, so everyone is incredibly encouraging and supportive. Someone on their $10,000 fancy triathlon bike may pass me on my old beat-up 1992 mountain bike I’ve been abusing daily, but I’ll leave them miles behind when I get to the running part. Yet whenever we pass each other, we’ll shout out greetings of encouragement and “Great job; keep it up!”
FRANKENMÜDDER MUD RUN
Frankenmuth also has added their own mud run, the Frankenmüdder, which was created to support Michigan’s Military & Space Heroes Museum. Not timed, this fun run takes one through a messy and muddy 5K course filled with 18 obstacles along the way.
Frankenmuth’s Fall & Winter Runs
Winterlaufe and Bruckelaufe have joined the traditional Volkslaufe race tradition in Frankenmuth in more recent years. Winterlaufe is an early-February 8K that I’ve run annually in my lederhosen. If I run fast enough, I don’t freeze from the snow and cold.
October’s Bruckelaufe, a half-marathon traversing 13 bridges in 13.1 miles, passes pumpkin patches and beautiful fall leaves and scenery.
When you complete the Winterlaufe, Volkslaufe, and Bruckelaufe all in one year, you earn a special, huge medal after the fall run. These events, huge fundraisers generating many dollars for important causes and organizations, are hosted by the extremely industrious Frankenmuth Jaycees. There are probably similar race events in your community, too; and I encourage you to experience the joys of the running community!
Here’s to wishing many merry miles to the masses! Let us know if you’ve found inspiration to log the laps that lend a newfound luxury to life. Fitness and fun are meant to be shared.
Jog on over to Bronner’s to find your perfect fit!
Dietrich Bronner, product development manager at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, is the grandson of originator Wally Bronner. Actively involved in the Frankenmuth Farmers Market and the farmers-market movement statewide, Dietrich is also an accomplished chef and avid runner.