Purpose

Week three of marathon training in the books, and today was my long run, a nice 10 miles on an unseasonably warm January day.

Lots of time to think on a 10 mile run, especially when alone (the friends I met up with were doing other routes and workouts). I somehow got thinking of why? The meaning of life, what’s the purpose? All these strands of DNA, this long abandoned railroad. What the heck are we doing here?

Then I remember that nothing needs to make sense. That everything doesn’t need to be figured out, or had apparent meaning. Just being in the woods with some good people is meaning enough.

New Years Day Adventures

Getting up at 4am on New Years Day didn’t sound so bad. First up was a run with the Early Miles crew, a group that meets and hour before November Project every Wednesday. Ran four-ish miles with a nice fella. A little fast, but felt good.

Then a 30 minute workout with the November Project crew (below). Absolutely bonkers. Scissor kicks, crunches, pushups, jumping jacks – sets of 30, in between running up and down the Art Museum steps.

After that we got coffee at a nearby Starbucks (one of the few places open on New Years Day) before we headed to a special meetup with the Chasing Trails group (below), where we set off on a 6-ish mile jaunt through the woods. I felt good a mile or two into the run, but didn’t refuel or hydrate enough, and just ran out of gas. Slowed my pace, tried to keep my heart rate down, pet some puppers, and got it done.

It was super rad to be around such a great group of people on New Years Day, when everyone had the ultimate excuse to just stay in, tucked into their warm beds, and skip a workout (or two).

Eleven miles in total, all done by 10:30am, with a bunch of amazing people. A bit different than my first run of 2019, which was after going to sleep at 4am on New Years Eve!

When You Love Skiing

My friend Dino sent me this video, “YETI Presents: John Shocklee | A Fairy Tale.”

Stuff like this used to weird me out. Like, sure, just live in a 215 sq. ft shack and be a ski guide! WHATEVER!

But bike adventures in my 30s, and now running in my 40s, like… it’s not so much about “quit everything, cancel your cell phone, and do what you love,” but… bits and pieces.

You gotta run three miles before you can run 10.
Gotta write one song before you write an album.
Have to camp for two nights before you can disappear into the woods for a month.

Nothing is zero to sixty. We’re all on course for something, somewhere, and sometimes we don’t realize it until 10 years later we’re left scratching our head and wondering, “how’d I get here?

Downtime

I spent about a week traveling, the first real deal road trip since I bought my car in December. The freedom to roam, along with my ability to work remotely for a handful of clients, is a double edged sword. I need to work, to be available, but I also need to drive… five hours to my next stop?

It’s somewhat maddening, and it’s the reason I cut my journey short. Maybe a few years ago I would have jumped at the chance for such an adventure, but lately I’m just not feeling that excitement. In part I loved it because I got to run in some new locations, but I also dreaded it because I chose to keep working. I mean, that’s the American thing to do, I guess, as a freelancer, to keep working, keep up the expectation that I’m just “always online” (even though I drove through some pretty remote areas with no cell coverage).

Then I think how I haven’t really gone fully offline in, well, forever. I think back to maybe 2007, when I went to Italy, when my only online responsibility was to my music blog at the time. Or when I left AOL Music back in 2011, and that following Monday I rode my bike to a mountain for a hike.

I’m damn grateful for the work, for sure. But I’m finding that I need to get away from work for longer stretches of time.

Flip the Script

After a five hour drive from the Outer Banks to Greensboro, NC, I was exhausted. Absolutely wiped out. I checked into my hotel room, put on some NFL football, and was ready to just lounge around the rest of the night.

Stress is real, and stress from five hours of driving is real. Lane changes, aggressive drivers, merging, it all adds up, and it feels nice to just relax it away.

Instead I did some online searching and found the Laurel Bluff Trail, about a 15 minute drive from my hotel. It’s a 3.1 mile trail, and it was absolutely gorgeous. As you can see from this photo, there’s an area covered in kudzu, and it was magic.

I knew how the other movie ended; hotel lounging, watch some football, watch TV too late, sleep like crap… but this other movie? I had no idea what to expect, and that’s what made it so great.

Rainy Day Fun

A handicap accessible trail to the ocean

Running isn’t always racing, or group runs. A lot of the time it’s a solo effort, and today I happened to be in the Outer Banks, of North Carolina. It was overcast, rainy, and the wind was fierce coming off the ocean, but these were eight fun miles and I wish I could do it again tomorrow.

Multiple times I thought of turning back to my car, walking, calling it a day, but one foot in front of the other, two miles turned into three, and I just kept it rolling.

One of the best things about running is it lets you explore new places in ways you can’t see otherwise. Most of this run was driveable, and I drove some of it before I actually started this run, but it’s just different on two feet, with sweat stinging your eyes, and wind gusts rushing right into your face.

Losing Routine

I’ve been trying to implement more positive habits into my days, which is much easier when I wake up in the same bed every morning. Today I woke up in a hotel room, with a beach nearby. That’s a bit different.

Usually the first thing I do is 10-ish push-ups, then weigh myself. But without a scale, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got out the hotel lobby in my running clothes and hit the boardwalk for a nice four mile jaunt.

My breakfast of choice is a smoothie, with almond milk and protein powder and shredded carrots, and more. But today it was eggs and bacon and some pancakes.

Work-wise, forget it. No comfy computer chair, or USB keyboard. My screen was not raised, so I could feel myself hunched over all day.

Didn’t get to work out of my normal nearby Starbucks, but found one near the hotel after checkout, and tried to cram in some work before my battery died (forgot to turn the screen brightness down).

All this to say; routine is hard when you’re out of a routine. Or when your day job has a schedule that varies. Or a million other things. Good habits are hard to maintain on good days, and a whole lot tougher when everyday life throws a curve ball.

On Morning Walks

It’s a new habit I started a bit ago, but really got serious once I got the Apple Watch. It’s some extra movement during the day, a little more time on my feet instead of looking down at my phone, scrolling through Instagram.

Sure, sometimes I do wake up and grab my phone and fall into those old routines, but I follow a good amount of runners and adventuerous souls, so I usually see some vista or trail and that motivates me.

LIKING things on Instagram ain’t gonna make me a better runner, or benefit my fitness. Just walking in the morning and getting moving benefits my work, too. Time to think, time to reflect, time to look up and see skies that make me smile, and smiling can only help, right?

Day to Dayness

Had an interesting talk today at a birthday party about starting podcasts, writing on the web, and consistency. About expectations as “creators,” more or less.

The one person was eager to start, to produce, and asking all sorts of questions about platforms and strategies, and then there were two of us who were – frankly – burnt out on it.

Having both come from musical backgrounds, and then being in the music media world, it’s a grind. It can be hard to get excited about new albums sometimes when you surrounded by… new albums all the time, especially when your “side hustle” requires you to be stoked about… new albums all the time.

Thankfully in the past year my passion has become my main gig, and I am beyond thankful and grateful for that. But then adding a side gig in the same field became too much, which is why I shuttered Skull Toaster.

There’s only so much energy one can expend on the day to dayness of MUSIC, which I why I think I’ve neglected playing music of my own the past several years (or, well, decade or so).

Maybe it’s not because I know how the sausage is made, but because every day I’m eating sausage, and I don’t want anymore after a long day of work.

Enter, then, my running. It’s something I started back in 2016, and has become a gigantic part of my life. I listen to some running podcasts, and follow some running accounts on Instagram and such, but I… don’t want to start a running podcast, or a blog, or a brand.

Perhaps it’s okay in 2019 to just do things, and let them be your things. Not everything needs to be a side hustle, or turned into content. It can just be, and that’s good enough on its own.