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Steve Wagner / Forum Communications Co., Published February 12 2012

Wagner: Passion of running hard to give up on

Bemidji, Minn.

The hard blue glow.

The concept behind it, as a kid growing up playing baseball, wasn’t foreign to me. In fact, it’s pretty simple to understand, even without a lot of context.

One of my coaches, lending from the writings of George Will, wanted us to play the game with passion and energy. To achieve excellence, you must pursue and maintain excellence. Anything short of our best wasn’t acceptable.

Recently, reminders of the “hard blue glow” reemerged in my thoughts, particularly after reading the latest editions of running’s most popular magazines, which included both articles focusing on performance among masters-level athletes, and those 40 years or older.

But something about the articles didn’t sit well with me. The magazines provide suggestions on enjoying our sport with renewed purpose, but the authors also reinforce the message of lowering expectations and diminished performances.

While I’m not in the master’s category, I will be soon enough. And I’m not willing to give up goals and dreams of fast times and new personal bests. Perhaps I have too much of that hard blue glow left in my veins.

Yes, I can still appreciate the freedom and ecstasy of a perfect morning run as the sun lifts above the horizon, or an exhilarating run on the trails that makes one appreciate the harmony between nature and our sport. Those are the little treasures we enjoy as runners.

But I’m also not ready to give up running fast. I’m not ready to simply show up and complete a race.

Instead, I want to push the limits of what I’m capable, feel the wind on my skin and aim to be better than I thought possible.

No, I’m not ready for the slow fade.

Rather, in this experiment of one, I’m committed to learning from my mistakes, making adjustments to my training and nutrition, and breaking through personal barriers.

As a runner, my journey has just begun, so why make it ordinary? I’m not sure where this trail will lead, but I’m aiming to make it extraordinary – whatever that may hold for me.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.