Like hiking but faster

Unfortunately, while traveling with companions, their wishes and preference *to not hike* must be taken into consideration.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that not everyone likes hiking. Unfortunately, this means that while traveling with one or more companions, their wishes and preference to not hike must be taken into consideration.

Indeed, this was the case during our December vacation. There were other limitations, too: We continued to work through the week we stayed in Oakland, and an ambitious travel schedule—driving down to Los Angeles, then up to wine country, and then back north through Big Sur to Aptos—left little time for the trails.

But, in spite of that, I still found ample opportunity to stretch my legs and breathe deeply, if sometimes raggedly.

Friends, let me tell you about a physical activity called running.

It’s like walking but faster.

Historically, as many of my readers probably know, I have hated running. I generally don’t like things I’m bad at—and I am not good at running. However, I am learning to love it. Love might be a strong word here, given how conflicted I still feel about running, but it’s a process—a “practice.” In fact, I think my laborious efforts as a runner have helped me better understand what people mean when they talk about a yoga practice more than any actual yoga practicing has done.

Anyway, after years of an extremely slow and irregular running practice, I felt as though my efforts finally bore fruit in December.

Important context: One of my primary motivations when I began running (or “jogging” as my younger, cross-country-running, track-and-field-competing brother puts it) was to become a better hiker. I was fed up with going long periods without hiking and then biting off way more than I could chew on vacations that rarely ended in tears—but tears of pain and frustration were often a feature along the way.

But over this recent vacation—which included very little hiking overall—my running practice made frequent, short excursions outdoors and to beautiful locations not only possible, but manageable—squeezed in between site-seeing, wine-drinking, hot-tubbing, and fine-dining. In Oakland, I ran around Lake Merritt; in Los Angeles, I ran almost all the way up to the look-out point below Griffith Observatory and watched the sun set over downtown; in wine country, we squeezed in an exhilerating trail run along the cliffside trail around Lake Cachuma; and in Aptos, I went on almost daily runs along the beach, covering far more ground than I would at a more leisurely pace. I even squeezed in a riverside run while in Jacksonville, Florida, for a wedding. If I had done all that at my usual walking pace—well, I couldn’t have done. There wasn’t the time.

Of course, then I returned to New York and proceeded to fall violently ill and didn’t run for weeks while recovering and working on a big project, and now I’ve started again and it is cold and difficult and unpleasant and often windy and I feel slow and heavy and tired.

I just have to remind myself of what’s possible if I keep at it. After all, it’s just like hiking only a (little) faster.

The sign I spotted only after finishing my mostly-alone trail run.

Pinch of Dirt is brought to you by Jessica McKenzie. Please forgive any typos, she’s just one human. The complete archives are now behind a paywall, but you can become a paying subscriber for unfettered online access, and to show your support for this newsletter. If that’s not in the cards, or in your budget, don’t worry: free sign-ups will still receive every issue in their inboxes.

If you enjoyed this dispatch, consider forwarding it to your friends. Or you can click the heart button below, which will help internet strangers find this newsletter.

Loading more posts…