November 09, 2018
Presented by Dunn Neugebauer, Coach
Running Camp? What in the Heck is That?
In three weeks, I’m off to Smoky Mountain Running Camp in Asheville, NC. The first time I told one of my students I was doing this, he quickly replied, “Running and camp are two words that should NEVER be used in the same sentence.”
Another common response: “You’re going to what? Running? Camp?”
That’s what I thought. Still, I’m weird – so in 2004 – I signed up. I made the LONG drive from West Palm to Asheville. Spent a week up there.
Haven’t been the same since.
Distance runners – I have found – are a different breed. It’s a group where the pain and suffering creates a thick bond – makes you friends. It’s kind of like, “Wow, you’re as demented as I am! What’s your name?” Yeah, something like that.
In Asheville, I enter every summer a time warp. Hundreds of us simply call a time out on life – I recommend this – and we head up into the mountains. We actually run up one on Friday – it’s called Buzzard Bait. I remember trying to impress my peers at the starting line on that 2004 day.
“I feel like a million bucks,” I said. My friend laughed. “That’s great,” he said. “Problem is, it takes three million to get to the top.”
He was right. Darn him.
It’s an adventure on steroids – where the very people that work you up are the same ones that help you through it. Strange, but there it is…
As for Asheville, it’s the Berkeley of the South – a place where locals, hippies and tourists all share the same soil. Somehow, it all works. You can find anything up there – except a parking place – and the music and the food and the culture – and the people I’ve met – are priceless.
We go there to share this thing called distance running. Fifteen of my kids will be with me this July. I’m an observer of the game – I like to watch and hear them as they go through the week. It’s a roller-coaster for them; the catch is – they’ll get off at a totally different place from where they got on.
I write this because camp of any kind keeps you young; gives you a time out you deserve. We’re pounded with info and jobs and chores and information and comparisons. Mental health is a serious issue. Me, I’m a selfish soul – probably take more “me” time than I should. I’m an experienced camp goer; twenty years ago, I went to an eight-week camp in New Hampshire.
I’m ready for my time out and to move forward, though I know how weird that sounds. And perhaps as I pen these words, my own mental health should be called to question. After all, in three weeks I’m going to run up a friggin mountain.
And I can’t wait to do it.
- Dunn Neugebauer
Excerpt from the book "Rock Bottom, Then Up Again"