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We’ve all been there – overwhelmed by the day-to-day demands of life, responsibilities, chores, and grocery shopping – living our lives a day at a time.
In this grind, it’s too easy to let opportunities for spontaneity, connection, and awe slip by us. The great naturalist-poet Henry David Thoreau called such ways of being in the world as living out “lives of quiet desperation.” If any of you relate, it’s alright. Welcome to the club.
But here’s the thing: there are countermeasures to such a life that we know work, simple strategies that can shake us from our overthinking, over-analytical minds and into go-mode, into lives that are full-bodied and full-hearted. And the best part? Too often it’s the simplest things that can help us most, a direct, less-is-more attitude that reconnects us with trail running and with our most adventurous self. Slow down. Set a goal. Buy the ticket. Go.
We asked our Run Editors what were the single best pieces of advice they’ve ever received for living an adventurous life. Here’s what came up.
Your Goals Should Set You Up To Live the Kind of Life that Excites You
I used to sign up for races on a whim, then rearrange my whole life to facilitate those events. I found myself logging grindy, long runs through the snow in the winter and avoiding the alpine adventures I wanted to pursue in the summer. Then, my coach David Roche dropped this knowledge bomb: you need to sign up for races that force you to live the kind of life you want to live, now.
This was revelatory. My life wasn’t going to change overnight, giant gulfs of time and energy weren’t going to suddenly materialize. I fundamentally needed to ensure the goals I chose (which I have control over) facilitated the joyful adventures I wanted. In the winter, I don’t want to have to run more than 25 or so miles at a time, so, I need to NOT sign up for longer races in January/February. In the summer, I want to spend every weekend camping and adventuring in Colorado’s high country. So, I need to sign up for fun mountain races that require that kind of adventurous training. – Zoë Rom, Trail Runner, Editor in Chief
Enjoy Your Time On the Trails. Repeat Forever.
A long time ago, I relished running fast on the track and, OK, I still do. I was a good high school runner who had a brief stint as a walk-on in college. But after I switched gears to trail running in my early 20s, I kept up the same intensity that came with running middle-distance events on the track. Given that I’m built more for speed than endurance, it led to always being dissatisfied with my race results or getting injured. My dad, who was always my biggest supporter, leveled some tough love on me. “Stop running like you’re still an 800-meter runner. You’ve got nothing to prove and nothing to win. Just enjoy your time out on the trails and do it for the rest of your life.”
It sounds simple, but it made sense and changed my approach. I realized it didn’t matter if I finished in the top 20 or in the bottom 20 of a trail race. I realized running trails was all about the experience, and it’s always better when you do it with friends. His simple advice helped me run free without getting buried in self-imposed pressure or expectations.
At the end of the day, nobody cares what place or how fast you finished, the trail running community will still embrace you for being there. More importantly, I’m still running trails decades later with my only goals of being present in the moment and staying fit and strong. – Brian Metzler, Trail Runner Contributing Editor
Buy the Ticket.
Gag, I know how terribly consumptive this sounds, but hear me out.
So often, our deepest longings for adventure can stay eddying in the ideation phase, lodged in daydreams instead of being made manifest, perhaps because we’re too busy hedging our bets, too busy playing it safe, uncertain about the future. For me, often through this processing the adventure-to-be becomes too late, too expensive, or that a deadline has passed.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about how to short-circuit this, and how to live adventurously, is to “buy the ticket.”
Now this might not literally mean purchasing something, but what I’m saying here is to lock in some logistical, social, or financial commitment as soon as you can, as soon as you feel clear about it being a priority in your life. I’m not suggesting here that you, say, dream of summiting Denali and then must, therefore, buy a flight today, that you must reserve an outfitter and put all your chips in now. Rather, I am suggesting that the sooner you can make a binding commitment with consequences – which is another way to say accountability – the closer you’ll get to actualizing dreams. Because what you’re often doing here is going public with your intentions, putting a financial penalty in front of you for not seeing the adventure through. So often we ask ourselves what barriers are keeping us from adventure, but what if we flipped the script and said: what barriers can I build so that I keep on living my most adventurous life?
If this all sounds transactional, it’s because it sort of is. But adventures often take a little buy-in, and I promise: it works! For example, during college I had this dream I couldn’t shake of traveling by myself, literally around the world, for one year. As soon as I was in a financial place to do so, I bought a series of plane, train, and bus tickets to lock in the first six months, and then spent the next year working my ass off to save. Once I took these steps, I felt committed to adventure. I’d invested in my adventuring future, and then filled in the gaps in my preparations to make it happen. And you know what transpired? The biggest adventure of my life. – Nicholas Triolo, Senior Editor, Outside Run and Trail Runner
The best pace is the one that’s sustainable for long-term growth.
I was in the depths of winter, training around snow plows and sheets of ice. I was recovering from an injury. I didn’t feel adventurous, and I was drowning in the comparison trap.
My friends in other parts of the country, in other phases of training, were running faster and farther than I was, and it got to me. I doubted myself and lost faith in the process. I ended up running too hard to impress my unknowing competitors and sending myself into a spiral. I was still slow, mentally and physically exhausted. Then my coach reminded me to throw pace out the window and run knowing I will grow, knowing that keeping it easy now will make me faster in the future. At its face, this is running advice. It’s not meant to be deep or life-changing. But following this advice required that I drop my ego, accept myself, learn to lift others up without putting myself down, and chase big dreams because growth is inevitable when you forget about pace and enjoy the process. With long term vision, I allowed myself to explore more and worry less. I slowed down and found adventure in my neighborhood on a new road, in a snow covered trail, or with a pair of great horned owls. Don’t let comparison taint the daily grind. Replace it with authenticity and curiosity, and every day might feel a bit more adventurous. – Gordon Coates, Trail Runner, Digital Producer