The subject line above is from John Durham Peters, as quoted from this post ‘Research Techniques.’

Running is my exercise of choice. I warm up very slowly, to the point where the first 20 minutes always feels like a mistake, and I should be doing something else. But then I’m four miles into a run and start thinking “maybe I should do eight miles today!”

But really, the joy of running for me is not thinking, or at least, not fretting. Not worrying.

There’s taxes to be paid, deadlines to meet, tasks to complete, sure. Those will always be there.

But when running, and when I’m truly present, I notice just the important things – the ground below, the sweat on my arms, watching my breath, keeping my heart rate in check.

In that moment, at mile one or eleven, they’re the most important things in my life. If I don’t pay full attention, and stay clear minded about such matters, it could be trouble.

So running forces me to be present, which really makes you wonder what’s important in life. Like I said, the taxes, the deadlines, yep… those will never end.

But someday I will run my last mile.
Someday I’ll run up a favorite hill one last time.
They’ll be a time when I can’t just walk out the door and stroll around the block.

That’s why I keep moving, and spending money (ooops) on things that keep moving, like ultralight backpacks and tents so I can be in the woods more, or another pair of trail shoes because I use them enough that they fall apart.

So I wouldn’t say I exercise that hard, but I flirt with that level of pain. I get close enough. It’s a challenge, but not impossible.

A few months ago I started running up this road that leads to the Appalachian Trail, and it used to take me 30 minutes, from the parking lot to the peak.

Back in April it took me about 45 minutes. I gained some weight, hadn’t been running so much.

It’s June and I’m at about 34 minutes, which is 34 minutes of not thinking about a fucking thing in the world except reaching the top and not dying.