of all virtues…energy.

I changed up my workout a bit this weekend and added sprinting. And I got back a familiar feeling that I really missed: taunt muscles in the morning. I absolutely love it when I wake up and feel the lactic acid firmly a hold of my legs. It’s good because it reminds you that, yes, yesterday you accomplished something. From there you can build on the foundations of literal physical labor. I see it as the foundation–as though whatever mental or spiritual work you do is then made more legitimate by its predecessor.

In fact, I think I am rearranging my schedule to fit sprint regimens in each weekend. And from this, I’ll start each week off with a solid base of sweat and toil. Everything after that simply adds on exponentially.

But back to the why. Why am I still running? Adding each week to the tally of miles and blistered feet so bad that sometimes I can barely stand? I’m down to an 8.1 bmi (or fat percentage) so it’s no longer really about health. At first it was to fill the hole, to plug that dearth of self-worth with a regular activity. Now that it proceeds in spite of having long moved past it, I would say is something I am incredibly proud of. Instead of being an indication of emptiness it is the manifestation of a certain contentment; a commitment to myself and to labor.

So I don’t want to push anyone else down the same path, it’s not about that. Running might not be for you, in fact maybe it’s not physical activity at all. But still, there is something to be said for that feeling of sweat build at your temples, clogging your pours until it tips and slides down your face. And having the wind catch your shirt and tug at it until your take it off and glisten in the sun. That glorious feeling as you coast to a stop and your body jerks quickly towards blackness, nearly fainting, but catches consciousness again at the last second. Music pounding through earphones that finally deduce the earth around you to a serene quietness. Here, I find peace, among other things. Mainly a full sense of being a man–or at least well on the road to becoming one. I find purpose; definitive goals that I force myself to reach, acting like destiny is a top I can spin on my palm. Here, I relish in the truth of the Von Clausewitz aphorism that “of all military virtues, energy in the conduct of operations has always contributed the most to the glory and the success of arms.” I look around to find myself alone on the track or the street, no competition or marks for comparison, just the energy and the passion that I brought with me.

So when you find that activity for yourself, cede control and pour into it. Allow the current to latch and pull you and there you will find a certain level of happiness that I have not found elsewhere. To the point where when you skip a day, you feel restless and hunger for it. And you pace rooms, eager for the freedom to get out there–alone–and do what you wish. From here you’ll find that overwhelming glory and comfort that people seek from religion–only more meaningful when you realize it comes from within. And then everything else becomes intermittent interruptions from your inner-peace that you really don’t mind. You’ll be enveloped by that calmness that Jack and Durden cherished after Fight Clubs. If there is something else that makes life more worth living–more human than that–then, as far as I can tell, it’s just an added bonus to what I’ve already found.

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.