The Soft Run on Substack

I wrote about “Soft Running” a few days ago, and the idea has kept with me. Enough so to start a Substack newsletter for the idea, the concept. The idea behind the Soft Run Substack newsletter (sign up here) is to have it’s own home, a space, to explore the idea a bit more.

It’s been a weird time for running in 2020, especially if you’re just getting started. There’s no run groups, no local 5K races to join with your friends. So how do we get started, and keep going? That’s what I’m going to be writing about.

Extra Work

From James Clear’s recent email (read it here):

What is the little bit of extra work that has huge upside?

I need to look at this from the running angle, because I don’t always want to write about work stuff, but I guess it’s gotta be stretching.

Not stretching is easy, but making time to stretch is absolutely extra work. It’s a routine, it’s formative, it’s just a darn good idea.

Slow Down and Smell the Roses

Just like soft running, sometimes you need a soft ride. I’ve been going hard these last few months, trying to lose weight, get faster, and all that other pretty fucking typical stuff. Then came a 10 mile trail race and I realized I didn’t have that much fun. It’s time to recalibrate.

Left the house and it was around 70 degrees, but sort of cool on the bike. I actually rode slow enough to be chilly; like, just riding so easy that I wasn’t really warming myself. It was a nice feeling. I slowed, looked deep into the woods, scanned the creeks, stopped to smell some pine trees.

Just like we can’t focus on work for 8+ hours, at least not in a healthy way, we can’t always workout hardcore either. I mean, if you’re young, cool! Do you! But it’s also nice to just switch it up.

Stop and smell the roses is cliche for a reason.

And I’ve discovered in my journey with outsourcing, there’s been some quiet time. There’s been moments in the day where shit is actually done, caught up. Nothing to do. It’s glorious, but also terrifying. It’s just not something I’m familiar with, having gone pretty much full tilt since 2018 when my Close Mondays operation really took off.

Tonight it felt unsettling to just get away on the bike, but it was absolutely everything I needed. The best ideas come in the shower, or those quiet moments just staring at the mountains.

Avoiding those moments isn’t advisable for me. I need to keep searching them out.

Grey Skies, No Lies

Reminded of this article after a long talk with a friend today:

We’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

That article is from March 23rd of 2020, which feels like a life-time ago. And how did anyone hit the nail on the head just a week after we started shutting things down?

We’re grieving the loss of normal, of safety, of security, of spontaneity. Stuff is upside down right now, and just keeping our head up is an act of defiance and bravery.

We no longer have a commute. We don’t have shows, or dinners, or meet ups like we used to, to break up our days. Our weeks. The day to day is stuck on loop. Like the Groundhog Day movie, but way darker because it’s happening in real life, and the ending credits are nowhere to be seen.

Today I remembered going into the city. Driving to the bus station, the two hour bus ride, walking out of Port Authority Bus Terminal and seeing the NYTimes building. I fired up Google Maps street view just to remember what that was like. I strolled down the street, heading east to Bryant Park. Dammit I miss Bryant Park.

I miss being able to meet up with friends at shows, and all the talks and adventure that place before the doors even open. Late night drives home, and everything they reveal.

This year has stripped a lot of the possibilities away. Great conversations are still happening, and the random hangs with select folks, but still, this shit is hard.

Stress is Real

Close that laptop and go for a long walk, run, dance, whatever. Move your bones, emails can wait.

I went through some dark harrowing times in 2014, 2015; broke as fuck, closed bank account, no steady work. Long walks helped save my ass (along with wonderful friends). Note that I’m not saying JUST GET OUTSIDE! DEPRESSION ISN’T REAL. Fuck that noise.

You can only answer so many emails, check off so many tasks. Eventually you’re making mistakes, resentment swells. Just get away. Law of diminishing returns. You’re not gonna remember those three things on your to-do list that you cleared on a Thursday night. Not compared to some walk where you might run into a great dog or two, or a gorgeous sun set.

Put on ‘Party Hard’ and groove.

Time in Nature

Some days hurt, some days you float. This was a nice six miles around the Trexlertown Nature Preserve, on a new route I’ve never done before. Started off chilly and breezy, and saw a woman modeling with antlers in the woods, so all in all a great run.

The thing about trail running is it’s time in the woods, which I cherish. Lately I’ve been taking it slow and easy, which just means more time in the woods, so it’s a win win all around. I keep reminding myself that I’m not racing, I’m just out in nature. So when it hurts, slow down. Walk. Take a photo (or two).

Soft Running

Some days I just don’t feel like a hard run. I don’t feel tough, or strong. I just want to be… soft.

I want to stop and take photos. I want to kick up pine needles so I can breathe in that wonderful smell. I want to just, stop, and appreciate the clouds and the sky.

Soft running.

A lot of times I just want to be in nature, but a little faster than walking. A shuffle, a jog, and that’s okay. Every run is not a race, and every run doesn’t have to be training. A run, like a walk, can be just because.

Soft running.

Falling Apart in Hotels

I love this thread on Twitter:

Hotels are amazing. They can be like little landing pads for wherever you are in life, with no judgement. There’s coffee, internet, big beds, and (usually) well lit bathrooms with plenty of towels.

It’s odd – I never thought of checking into a hotel during this time of COVID, but the prospect has me thinking.

“Sometimes to fall apart, sometimes just to reset. Phone off, food, quiet, movies, books. Just myself.”


This sounds amazing, actually. A total reset, just to get away.

Right Place, Right Time

However these things happen, they just happen. Some are low impact, or not even noticeable, but wow, this instance my attention.

I had already gone out for a run earlier in the day, but a new pair of shoes came in the mail, and I needed to break them in. A short evening walk turned into something magical.

Went out for a run yesterday. Garbage. Legs felt heavy, chest felt full of mashed potatoes. I don’t know what happened.

Today, thought I’d go for a quick “run to the mailbox” (my way of going out for the mail, but actually going for a run, and just seeing what happens).

Pure magic. Gliding on air, coasting like a bike, I don’t know what happened but it was stellar.

In each case I didn’t know what to expect, but getting out there in the first place is the only way to find out.