“There is this to be said for walking: It’s the one mode of human locomotion by which a man proceeds on his own two feet, upright, erect, as a man should be, not squatting on his rear haunches like a frog.”
— Edward Abbey
Zooming down the road at 60 miles per hour, squatting on your rear haunches like an Abbey frog, you may get where you are going fast, but you are pretty much separated from the environment you are passing through. You are breathing rarified processed air, the temperature is artificially maintained, the sounds of the world are drowned out by the motor and music.
Slow it down. Get out of the car.
Ride a bike, you are moving slower, but you are not adding carbon to the atmosphere. You are getting some health gains, you see more detail, a house you never noticed, a pair of horses munching in a pen, you feel the wind, hear it flying by.
Slow it down, got off the machine and run.
Now you are moving on your own power, not relying on any machine. At a slower pace, more is revealed, the details of the road, you realize just how much noise vehicles make, you see the real interface of man made materials and the natural world. There are even more sounds available, but maybe its still the plodding of your shoes or hammering of your heart, or an ipod stuck in your ear between you and the world.
Now walk. The amount of resolution of detail in the experience is 100 fold of being inside a fast machine. Maybe more. You will talk to neighbors you never saw before, you hear the clinking of a bell and notice a cow munching in an orchard you never saw before. There are details like a carved bear art piece in a front yard, a lost piece of homework flopping in the ditch, some shiny rocks sitting idly in a culvert, heck, even road apples stand out.
I’d honestly forgotten the sense of “being there” if you have a chance and the time to walk a distance. You might find the world bigger or more wonderous or more colorful or more vibrant in sound.
This is the longest philosophical pre-amble fluff I could dream of to describe why I am hanging up my running shoes. It’s no secret, it’s in the URL http://dommy.com/ihaterunning. I took running up as a challenge to myself in 2006, because I never ran more than 3 miles, and never saw a reason to, but wanted to see if I could rise above my pre-conception, and also raise some funds for a personal cause, Diabetes.. I did a first half marathon in January 2007, a few more, and wobbled through a full marathon on 2008. I returned to do a half in 2010, and got in mind to do another 13.1 miles in 2011.
But I have never gotten rarely more than a distant odor of runner’s high, I just do not like anything about the experience except being done. I like the health gains, but doing it… well, I just don’t have it in my heart to be out there clocking miles. And then I feel guilty for shirking the training. I lost three weeks in October with bronchitis, and had a mild cold this week. I think my body is transmitting a message.
I know many people that actually enjoy it. The run un freezing cold, smile as they do 8 minute miles, and smell like soap afterwards. That’s great, but it ain’t me.
Yet, I have sponsors for this year’s effort, so I cannot just walk away, but I can…. walk. I decided I wanted a new challenge, so instead of grinding myself through another 13.1 mile run, I am going to walk the full marathon.
You see I do like walking, especially the kind that I used to call “hiking”, being outdoors, taking time to takle in the full resolution experience.
Now despite the snickering, walking a marathon is not something you simply get off the couch and do. They limit the time you can be out there (the one I am doing is 7/5 hours from the first gun) so I estimate I ought to be doing 15-16 minute miles. The farthest I can remember hiking in a day was 22 miles, make in the 1980s when a friend and I did the Mt Whitney summit hike and back in a day.
So I got out today, and di 8 miles at that pace, and felt great. Not only was it the opposite to the drill of running, I enjoyed it, and saw even more detail than I did while running the same route.
Who knows where I’ll go next?