So this weekend started like most others: cooking breakfast for the kids, my wife is prepping for work, playing with the kids (Hot Wheels, Nerf gun wars, and Lego building), and I’m thinking about when I will be able to get out to get some miles in. My wife is working a split shift today, so I know I have a small window when running is even an opportunity. Call it serendipity, call it fate, call it whatever you want but at some point this morning Marshmello turned what I had expected to be a standard neighborhood road run into something more memorable (and worth writing a blog post about).
Recently my two and four year old sons have taken to watching Marshmello videos on youtube. I had noticed them watching these videos once before this morning, but didn’t give it much attention. Today, however, I ended up watching several videos for entire songs with my two year old. At some point during this time, I started thinking to myself that these videos are entertaining and this music is pretty good and could be pretty awesome to run with. Well, with that thought I decided I would take Marshmello with me to liven up my standard neighborhood running route I had planned to get in during the break between my wife’s work shifts. In some sense, it made it a new and fresh experience.
It started off like most other runs along my standard neighborhood route; the sidewalk and road cracks here and there, the resident turkey there. Maybe there was a bit more “pep in my step” due to the fast tempo in my earbuds that I wasn’t accustomed to, but otherwise it felt like a standard run. It wasn't until about five miles, the halfway point of my run, that I started feeling that this music was altering my thoughts and emotions during my run. I began thinking about appreciating our surroundings. Since I prefer trail running over road running, the fact that this thought popped in my head during my standard neighborhood road run route surprised me.
I looked at the houses and appreciated the architecture and the work that went into the design of them. How can one say that architecture isn’t an art in itself? For that matter, what about the landscaping? I appreciated the materials that went into the building of those homes: the years and labor hours that were spent on the research, development, and production of those materials. I thought about the chemists that were involved in the development of the paints, siding, shingles, and insulation in every home on the street I was running along. I admired the structural and environmental engineers that designed and finalized all of the minute details of the working parts of the home and macro impacts of the development itself. I thought of the foresters and mill workers that made the lumber and the drivers that transported those materials from the forest to the mill to the building sites. I thought of the landscape architects that designed the layouts of the yards with the trees and shrubs. That led me to appreciate the nurseries and their employees that produced the plants. Additionally, it led to the appreciation of the landscape companies and their workers for installing the shrubs, trees, and turf.
That last paragraph may sound like nothing but an unadulterated praise of capitalism, but it is in fact just my reiteration of thoughts during this run of my recognition of the worth of individuals’ contributions to a shared project. Whether it had been building homes, growing corn, or launching a satellite into orbit; I believe that in my state of mind I would have seen the beauty in the orchestration of any of them and appreciated them all equally. Basically, the point of this entire writing is to encourage the appreciation of your surroundings.
I’ll be the first to admit that I usually don’t appreciate my environment when I do my standard neighborhood runs. I typically view it as a convenient way to get some miles in. After this morning’s run though, I appreciated my standard running route in a way that I had not before. It really opened my eyes to how much a run can be influenced by altering one small aspect of it, such as auditory input. It amazed me that I had not been so aware of this fact earlier. I’ve run the same routes multiple times many times with mixed results. Sometimes it’s the weather that changes or just my attitude. Sometimes I’m too hungry or my stomach feels too full. Whatever the variable is that you choose, there is some impact from said variable on how your run turns out. The key is to realize that YOUR run is being impacted by these inputs. Once this is realized and accepted, one can run through and minimize the impacts of perceived negative inputs on their running regime. Additionally, one can breathe new life into old and boring running routines. Change your music, add music, run hungry, run full, run topless, push a stuffed armadillo in a stroller. The point is to change up your routine if the routine of it has begun to impact your motivation. It isn’t the activity of running that has become boring or routine to you, it is your perception of it.
January 15, 2017