I recently wrote my nearly obligatory “some personal news” post related to leaving my job in March. I’ve been working in digital and social since you needed to code the page you wanted to publish. That’s a not insignificant time spent in front of screens. From desktops and laptops to tablets and phones, I have been hitting refresh on feeds and streams my entire career. Being able to step back from them, even just a little bit, has been transformative.
So what have I been doing with myself when I’m not jumping on calls?
I’ve been retraining my brain. I’ve been consuming actual culture in a way I haven’t since I was a music critic. And, I’ve been running.
Now, I’ve written about running in the past. In fact, when I started writing this this morning, I had to edit — and ultimately delete — a post I started writing about running last October. Why? Because I began the post the way I always do, saying that I’d learned from the last time I suffered an overuse injury and how this time would be different.
Well — spoiler — it wasn’t. I probably had my shortest stint of active running yet. I was hobbled with a weird and painful ankle injury that sidelined me all winter.
So what’s different this time? For one, I’ve actually stuck to my stated principles each time I’ve written one of these posts. I started running 6 slow miles a day in March, then bumped to 10 per day in May and am now flirting with 12 a day in July.
Best of all I’ve discovered trail running. I watch an absurd amount of ultrarunner YouTube now, notably stuff from Ginger Runner, but also stuff from outdoor and sports brands like REI, Red Bull, Hoka One One and more. Watch How to Run 100 Miles and tell me it’s not different from every piece of branded content you’ve ever seen. It inspired me. It captures so much of what I’ve been chasing in life: the ability to disconnect and, well, #OptOutside in a way that too few of us make time to do.
Because I can’t shut off the part of my brain that thinks about how content can connect us to meaning, I’ve gone deep on outdoor brands because I think that since REI went big with #OptOutside they’ve really captured an ethos that many Americans I know yearn for: the ability to escape and push the boundaries of what’s possible. I think it’s what Strava got half right in its #GiveKudos campaign when they tried to connect interaction on their app to something different from the hellstream of political memes we see every time open our phones in the morning. It’s a noble effort and one that I hope these brands continue to pursue.
I know what you’re thinking. This is where I announce my next race. You’re not wrong. I’m hoping to run my first ultramarathon — a mere 50K — in early September. I’ve got this!