One More Step

Add New Orleans, Austin, Tahoe, Riverside, San Francisco, San Diego, Vicksburg, Dallas, Tombstone, Tucson, Joshua Tree, Phoenix, Vegas to cities I’ve run in during the last year. Add some of the cities multiple times on multiple trips. In the rain. When I was sick. With a weight vest. On the beach, on treadmills, hopelessly lost, in the snow, in the middle of the night, twice in one day.

I wrote a version of that for the first time in 2008. But it was a shorter list for sure. When I look back on that period and partially on this one, what strikes me despite the differences in locations is the sameness of it. It was always about the same distance, at the same speed and usually around the same time at night. I realize now how unnatural that is, unproductive in a way. Periods of lots of activity can still be a stasis. In fact, the body gets used to this and settles itself into handling it.

People with energy cannot not use it. It pours out of them. There’s no question of whether they have time to do this or that, it just happens. They take one more step because they are compelled to. You rack up a history this way. The problem is when it begins such a unconscious part of your decision making process, it starts to not be enough. It ceases to mean anything if it is a routine, physically and in significance. What the body needs is unpredictability and contrast and challenges.

For me that has meant adding in new things like sprinting. Or using a weight vest. And swimming or biking occasionally. It’s less about the cities—I can trust myself now to get up and do it anywhere—and more about the diversity. The evolution of self-discipline ultimately comes to include regulating the discipline itself. To do the same thing over and over takes nothing. To do something different, exhausting, and new each time takes a robust creativity that you can be proud of.

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