Last Saturday, me and about 150 of my “closest friends” that I’ll be running the marathon with this October (shout out to Team World Vision!) gathered in a local city for the first of what will be weekly group training runs from now until the event. Smaller groups have been popping up over the weeks of base training, but this was the first big meet-up. After a few announcements and a prayer, we split off into pace groups and made our way down the surprisingly hilly (at least for Michigan) path for the day’s quick five-mile run. Friends and strangers who found themselves in similar stride quickly faded into clusters to talk and share stories along the way. Through their winded breath, you could hear giggles and laughs as they swapped “war stories” of runs from the past. And though the air was heavy and thick with the morning humidity that few outside of the Midwest know this region is capable of, for the entire 2.5 mile out and back course, each of the dozens and dozens of faces beamed from the joy of the shared experience.
At the end of my miles that morning, I grabbed a water and, like so many others who had made it back, wandered back up the street a few yards to cheer for those still finishing the day’s run.
“Bring it home!”
We cheered and clapped as they made their way up the normally quiet street. Even the newer runners who labored to complete their first ever five-miler, smiled back, clapped their hands, maybe even pumped a fist as they took the final strides up the road. As each group or individual made it past the final flag, their smile grew even broader as they high-fived or even hugged someone nearby. Like me the others around me, the new finishers grabbed something cold, maybe a stretched a little, and joined the “Welcome Committee” for the next wave of finishers.
I took a quick second to step back and soak it in.
It was contagious.
The positive energy spread from one person to the next until everyone was infected.
I’ve been mentally massaging this theory lately that everything is contagious. Happiness. Sadness. Illness. Confidence. Doubt. Spirituality. It only takes one person getting it and, in the right circumstances, it can be spread to everyone they come in contact with. Then they spread it to their circle. And so on… and so on…
And, as much as I believed that theory was true, I’d never really seen it happen right in front of me. And never like this. When that guy comes to work with the flu, it’s usually a day or so before you start to feel the symptoms and immediately curse his name. It happens slowly. By the end of the month, everyone in the “cube farm” has been sick, but, by the time you’ve got it, the guy who gave it to you is already back to normal.
This was an outbreak.
This was a zombie flick of positive energy, encouragement and legitimate joy. You couldn’t help but get it. It just overtook you like a wave.
Good or bad, what you’re putting out in the world IS contagious. Whether it’s on the street, in the office or even inside your own home, the people around you WILL catch what you’ve got.
So what are you going to give ’em?