Dialing In

When I first started running again, I think the only way to describe it was angry. I can see myself (the funny thing people take for granted about being self-conscious is that you can picture yourself from angles you’ve never actually seen, like an image of yourself swimming taken from a helicopter hover behind or head) – taking corners at full stride, grinding and heaving. It was about pushing myself so hard that I’d hurt afterward and if I didn’t I’d feel restless and lazy. I’d think about as much as I could and come home and drip sweat all over a legal pad trying to get it down before I lost it.

But now it’s transitioned to something different. I often do the same courses as before but they’re relaxing, steady and peaceful. A rhythm. I can still do 3 miles in 21 minutes (8, 7, 6mm) but it’s not some perversely enjoyed punishment any longer. When I don’t bring an ipod, I’ll return to realize that I spent 40 minutes without a thought. If I do it in the morning, around midnight, I’ll feel like going again. Or I’ll head down and jump rope until I get back into the flow.

The thing, I think, about running like that, or doing anything manically for that matter is that it’s a mask for a search for purpose. As you start to get closer to finding a reason, things slow down. I didn’t find what I was looking for hacking and beating away at the air. It was when I dialed that things started to shift. Instead of trying to get ‘back to where it used to be’ – an allure that is so tempting because it feels right – the idea is to move on to the next thing. To find where you’re flailing wildly elsewhere and approach it with maturity and dispassion.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.