Elemental Motivation Part 5: Running With a Smile

We have reached our final post in the 5 part Elemental Motivation series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). Our final post will focus on one of my favorite activities next to running, smiling. As long as I can remember I have been a huge cheeseball, my friends, ex-girlfriends, and family can attest to this. I can often be found with an enormous grin on my face as seen in the picture below.

Jack McPheron

Me at 7 years old being Indiana Jones cheeseball.

However,with the exception of a few scattered races, this smile seemed to fade away while running. Running was a chore for me and each mile was a grind. For many years, my running took on a more serious tone and was not an enjoyable activity. Most runs were tarnished with high expectations of required times. I succeeded in placing an immense amount of pressure on myself and as a result, often came up short of my goals. It was not until college that I began to realize the power behind a smile when it came to running.

When my college running career began at Penn State, it had a different look and feel to it as compared to high school. I was running for the club team, which carried a certain level of relaxation to it. Club Cross Country is by no means uncompetitive, as the top runners post times equal to that of varsity runners. However, I felt I could relax more when running with this group and let myself enjoy the race. The effects were visible immediately as my times quickly fell like a rock. Over the course of 4 years, my times went from a 36:30 down to a 27:50 for an 8K race. There was also something very different about these races, I was happy while running. I quickly got to a point where running was the highlight of my day. As one can see in the picture below, I would flash smiles all around the course, once again returning to my inner cheeseball.

Smiling through a grimace during an 8K.

The smile is quite possibly the simplest way to change every aspect of your life. It can be done in an instant and can make you feel better both inside and out. There is also a magical quality about the smile that makes those around you feel better as well. Your perception of your running is reality. If you choose to see it as a form of torture or work, then it will be so. For me, I’m sticking to the smiling route and viewing my running as one of my daily joys and endorphin fixes.

Always in Stride,


Song of the Week – Live Like We’re Dying – Kris Allen

Quote of the Week – “Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?” – George Eliot

Video of the Week – Funny Nike Running Commercial

4 replies
  1. Joshua Bonet
    Joshua Bonet says:

    I can testify that yes: John loves life, loves happiness, loves people, loves to run and most importantly loves to smile. He has been great inspiration for me and many others. You are the shit bro, you gave me the courage to go beyond my limits and for that I thank you. Keep following your dreams, I know you will accomplish all of them.

  2. Nate Smith
    Nate Smith says:

    I am saddened by how many people I see on the roadways and trails that are obviously not enjoying their running. Sure, I complain about things while running (it’s too hot, too cold, I can’t breathe, my knee hurts, etc.), but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the run. Are some runs just downright painful? Absolutely. Are we going to enjoy every single one of them? Absolutely NOT. But overall, I think running is a great activity, and wish people would just 1) lighten up a little and say “Hi” back to me, and 2) smile, or at least pretend to smile.


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