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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let's Explore: Milestones, Meanings and Maybes

Milestones provide to us a sense of accomplishment. Just imagine, if you were to go and run a new distance and have no idea at any given time, where you were in that distance. How would you, how could you determine what the best course of action would be, for any given variable?

Feeding Time
With this in mind, we need to understand that milestones are simply feedback.

"At some arbitrarily determined point, I was moving at this rate and felt this way". As a runner, as a person, I think that this type of evaluation is healthy and helpful; though, balance is essential.

Bionic ? Running
I wear a watch when I run. A Timex Ironman with such gadgets as a 30 lap memory and 3? alarm clocks... I run for a certain period of time at a perceived exertion and extrapolate a distance as I go... Seldom do I have the feedback of actual mileage markers, set hard and fast. Instead I rely on how I feel when I reach the used jeep dealer at the top of the first hill of one route, or when I have to duck under the fingers of a twisted branch on the edge of the river when I run on another. These beacons spur me on, they tell me "today you are improving" (whether I am fast... that day or not, success is the choice to be out there).

Laser Runner?
There was a time when I believed (else I was not a Runner) for whatever reason that I had to know my pace for every mile,each half mile even... and this brought about a great sense of anxiety to my running, in fact, it was not mine at all. I can recall thinking that I was not fast enough, run faster, run faster... you must!

The results were inconsistent training, plateaued racing, Injury and ultimately no sense of growth. In other words, the recipe for a short lived, cyclical, seasonal runner. Each spring I'd start all over after months and months of watching television. I even wrapped myself into some poor lifestyle choices... using the 3 W's (whiskey, weed, wine) to escape (hide from) some personal issues which of course waited and festered and rose like smoke to the surface at just the wrong (right?) time. This served to take me farther from being who I am meant to be... call it my destiny if you will...

"You cannot run away from a weakness..."
At some point and for some reason I finally took a good look at myself, not exactly who I was at that moment, because in the grand scheme I was a pretty mild case, an ordinary guy (which is exactly the issue here) but more importantly I looked at the projection of who I was becoming... more mild, more passive... life slipping away, not taking an active role in ANYTHING.

I did not like what was in front of me. Despite all the advantages surrounding my life as a middle class white kid in America with the ability to travel wherever and do whatever I was squandering under the guise of some cynical ideal concerning society. I needed to get out of that hole called judgement and "get busy bein' born."

I began setting goals, small ones like: I will only drink water today and I won't smoke anything, this morning, at least and see how that goes... just milestones to gauge progression. Were the moments in my life improving? or was I receding? Or in the words of Bill Lumberg, "was this good for the company (i.e.... me)?"

Life is Momentum
In time it became habitual to make good decisions, decisions I could be proud of, not the kind you hope nobody asks you about... and recognize the poor choices immediately. A funny thing happened. I began listening to my body more, I began running more. I stretched out to new distances, at paces I never dreamed of... sometimes barely "running" at all; I was moving so SLOW... But- I was moving forward, I was happy. Discovering some new things about myself stripped away all of those cynical traps which are so easily set and fallen into and which seem permanent while you are in them... just as permanent as this life seems now.

Running became something different through this process. I developed a deeper understanding of what running can offer and more important to any relationship, what I can offer to running. The community, the beginning runner, a person who hadn't run since junior high, a kid who happen to see some guy running through his neighborhood, and maybe even a spark to a more experienced runner losing sight of why he/she was logging so many hours out there!

I still struggle most days with that idea of not running. Now- I greet the idea. I spend a minute with it. I say, "you DON'T have to run. But- I know you want to, because it makes you a better person." In a few minutes I am a half mile from the car, with the meditative stare, the rhythmic breathe, the tantric bounce... I have transformed. I, am again, a runner.

This is my 100th post on In Clean Air and it seems appropriate to dance with this idea of milestones. While I did not set out to do this thing in particular, I am glad it is here, it is good. We should have as many good things around us as we can stomach! Happy running, happy living. The course is the future! Let's explore...


  1. Great post, and just what I needed today--honesty, and taking a good look at one's self. Congrats on the guts to change your journey.

  2. Congrats on 100!

    What a great post.

    There is so much here to reflect on, but what jumps out at me first is "laser runner". I relate to the speed/ distance/improvement trap and have often suffered the anxiety and feeling of loss of growth you describe.

    Thank you for the reminder not to be so distracted with something that is so meaningless-what a dead end.

    I shall run and reflect on this, whilst my wrist remain Garmin-free...

  3. Nice post. I, am also again, a runner. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Definitely good stuff here...I like to keep track of the meaningless stuff, but this is a reminder that those things really aren't what running is about in the end. It's a way of life and like you, it has changed my life for the better!

    Great post. I can't wait to get out there and just appreciate the gift of running again.

  5. Hi Sean,
    Congrats on your 100th post!! I just want you to know I really enjoyed your post today. The more I read your blog the more I like it and you:) You are a great writer and a deep thinker. You shared some personal thoughts and feelings with your readers and I respect what you have to say. Thanks for sharing. Sean I hope that you have an excellent week!!


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