Since Monday is our day for non-work activities, I'll post a bit about why I spend most of my free time running through the woods.
A few months ago, I posted about an intended barefoot run of the Georgia section of the Appalachian trail. Due to several factors, the main one being reality, I had to postpone the adventure.
I am still confident that this run will happen, but I need to get a little more experience under my feet before I make the 80-mile run from Springer Mountain to the border of South Carolina.
In the meantime, I am training for two big runs in October. My inaugural trail race will be the StumpJump 50k in early October, followed by the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon in mid-month.
Why spend the time buffeting my body out on my lonesome?
It's something like this: I do not believe that good character is something that just happens.
Virtues like patience, endurance, peace, and hope are woven into our souls as we get out and live. Out on the trail, I face fatigue, despair, and humiliation. They come in inevitable waves, and as I run, they play out a drama that teaches me to wait patiently through the slumps, to control my thoughts, and to rally my resources for a push up that steep hill or through those last miles.
I get to enjoy the rewards of discipline. After trudging up rocky hills for over an hour the other day, I emerged from the woods to find myself on the edge of a mountain overlooking a massive, foggy spread of forest.
There are also intrinsic rewards. I find myself relaxed and energized at the end of climbs that used to kill me. I can trace my progress as I increase distance and train for speed. I find my energy level more consistent and my moods brighter, even when I'm not running.
A lot of people talk about the importance of prayer as a spiritual discipline. But you don't have to be locked up in your prayer closet to pray. I feel like running strips me of my pretenses, puts me at the edge of my resources, and drives my emotions to a place where I can honestly commune with my creator.
Finally, here's a picture of me out in Utah, back when I was just getting started with this trail running stuff. It says a lot more than words could about why I run: