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The Bad Habits We’re Not Letting Go

Move over, resolutions. Here are all the bad habits our editors at Trail Runner are hanging onto in 2023.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Here at Trail Runner, we’re all about pursuing your best athletic self. But we also think that, occasionally, you need to ditch your map and take the path less traveled. Forget over-optimization to the detriment of a full life, well-lived. To quote gonzo journalist and writer Hunter S. Thompson: 

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!’”

Sometimes, you have to leave the pile of laundry unfolded and that tooth unflossed in pursuit of the stuff that really matters. So this year, we’re showing ourselves some compassion when we forget the sunscreen. Sure, we all have big goals for 2023, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to absolutely rage along the way. Here are the vices we’re not ready to give up on. 

Cutting My Own Bangs

It started as an easy way to save five bucks, but it has become an essential part of my spiritual practice. The first thing you need to know about cutting my own bangs is that I am 

terrible at it, and that I haven’t gotten any better. Yes, I could watch a quick YouTube tutorial on how to do it correctly, but I can’t, and I won’t, because I have to use that valuable time to write indispensable objects d’art like this, or Googling ‘what was the good song in an Apple commercial not Feist?’ (an actual recent search I spent 15+ minutes on). 

Tell me, dear reader: what is it that you intend to do with your one wild and precious life? When I shed this mortal coil, I’ll rest easier knowing I spent five fewer dollars and minutes on my hair, and more time watching videos of small dogs herding even smaller ducks on Instagram. 

Some people meditate. Others take hallucinogenic mushrooms to create distance between themselves and the “Self.” For even less time and money, you could experience the absolute ego-dissolution that is having to attend dozens of Zoom meetings with this haircut. A living zen-koan, a Ram Dass quote you can wear on your forehead. – Zoë Rom, Trail Runner Editor-in-Chief

RELATED: Here’s What Our Editor’s Loved in January

Annihilating My Ear Drums

Listen, if God didn’t want us to listen to music at full-blast, then why would she create a brilliant back-end hack to crank the volume up to 11? Whether I’m writing, running, cooking, driving (I have blown out the speakers in every vehicle I’ve ever owned. Check my CARFAX!), or grocery shopping, I’m absolutely obliterating my eardrums with loud sounds. Want to accelerate right past your prescribed effort for a workout? Pump up the jams.

It started as a youthful affinity for thrash and punk music, but in my old age (29), it’s extended into my love for all things podcast and radio. The dulcet tones of Jad Abumrad or Ira Glass are even sweeter when booming through my stereo at a pitch that my neighbor once called “a nuisance” and “probably illegal.” I might be the first person to incur serious inner-ear injury from a David Sedaris audiobook. — ZR

Sleeping In During the Dark Season

For much of my adult life, I woke early and put in four to 10 running miles before breakfast. It was the best way to ensure that I accumulated the consistent volume I needed for my competitive goals. And, I admit, it gave me a sense of moral superiority. I prided myself in getting out in chilly October rains or frigid winter slop and arriving at work with my legs’ slight soreness reminding me of the miles I’d already covered. Over the last few years, however, as my goals have become less ambitious—and my self-esteem less tied to daily discipline—I’ve discovered the pleasure of sleeping in during seasons when mornings are dark and it’s 30 to 50 degrees warmer under the covers than out on the roads. Working from home makes it much easier to put in mid-day miles, when the temps are higher and my joints more lubricated, and I’ve learned to appreciate the mental reset a lunch-time run provides. Granted, it’s not as conducive to consistency—the window of opportunity can, and does, get closed by unexpected meetings or looming deadlines—and part of me feels like the concession to the morning cold is indulgent. But having tasted the sweet pleasure of pulling the blankets up, rolling over, and drifting off for another hour, I’ll gladly give in until the early-summer sun again calls me out for morning miles. — Jonathan Beverly, Senior Running Editor

Arriving to The Airport Last Minute

First, let me acknowledge that, fossil-combustion notwithstanding, I’ve had the great privilege of taking many airplanes to many wonderful destinations around the world in my short little life. How much do I love the feeling of firing away to some place, destined for the horizon, some faraway adventure soon to unfold and just waiting for my arrival? A lot. I love it a lot. But I will not, mark my words, will not and cannot show up to the airport with extra slush time. I’m simply incapable of it and have, thus, surrendered to this personal limitation of mine. It almost seems as though my whole life has been working toward developing this superpower, of maximizing my anxiety-per-minute ratio, of finessing this masochism every time I travel so that I’m guaranteed to be a fumbling mess at every airport, every time, no question. Luckily, as a runner, I get to work on my strides, my kick, my midfoot strike, just as they call my name on the loudspeaker. But take it from me, people: that’s just training smarter, not harder. — Nicholas Triolo, Senior Editor, Trail Runner and Outside Run 

RELATED: A Trail Runner’s Guide To Getting Really, Really Good Sleep

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

If you know me, you know I don’t sleep much. Or, better put, I sleep very little. In fact, I take pride in it. If I get four hours of slumber in a single night, that’s more than enough. Sometimes it’s much less, but rarely is it much more. As much as people tell me it’s not healthy and that my body and brain need more sleep, if for no other reason than I would recover better and therefore run better, I justify it in several ways. First, I run just fine, thank you. Secondly, I very, very rarely wake up feeling tired and on those rare occasions, I make it a point to not give into a mopey disgruntled demeanor that seems to be tied to less-than-expected sleep. Lastly, and here’s the crux of this whole bit, life is too damn short as it is for me to knowingly and purposely waste time in a semi-unconscious state of being melted into a memory foam pillow-top mattress when I could be consciously doing more, or at least thinking about doing more. As it is, there are more trails I want to run, more peaks I want to summit, more articles I want to write, and more places I want to visit (both globally but also a stone’s throw from my home base in Colorado) than I’ll ever have time to tackle. I don’t have any internalized mantras, but if some scientist crawled inside my brain, they’d hear neurons firing to the sound of “Let’s F-ing Go!” And yes, science has my back, as there is continually more understanding of people who possess the “short sleep” gene. (Not that I needed validation or justification.) While many people will try to attach negative connotations to my sleep habits, I am a professional short sleeper and it’s one of my best attributes. As this article says, “it’s a gift.” — Brian Metzler, Contributing Editor

Buying Too Many Books

This is something I’ll defend until the end, the impulse to hoard knowledge, my little paper-bound zip files shelved and stacked everywhere at home. (Between my running shoes and my books, it’s a jungle over here.) I see books as a fascinating cultural technology of memory keeping, harnessing sorcerous imagination while inviting us into deep empathy, of losing oneself in the stories through following the lifeways of another. This year, I pledge to continue accumulating books as I always have, even though I own far too many that I still have yet to read. In a way, books make me feel rich without actually being rich, a way to access meaning through the sensitivities and sensibilities of others. Perhaps the only thing that might unfasten this stubborn anti-New Year’s resolution for book-hoarding might be to check out more books from the library. OK, wonderful, new resolution established: Spend more time at the library. Spend more time swimming in books owned by, well, all of us. — NT