…but Running is Sunlight

(Why yes, that is a riff on Superman.)

Assumed Audience: people interested in discussions of travel and of maintaining good habits.

Yesterday I wrote at some length about how severely travel impacts my ability to keep up my normal routines. As I hoped, reflecting and planning a bit at the end of that post was a helpful bit of motivation today. I got up this morning and did a new variant on my push-up routine,1 and then make a point to get out for a run early this afternoon. It helped. It helped a lot!

I had the very odd and very funny experience of starting the run and feeling what I can only describe as an anticipatory jolt of endorphins. People talk about getting runner’s high” but I don’t really experience it: I’ve experienced it only a handful of times in the 9½ years I’ve been running. Today, though, I got a little bit of it… right in the first few steps, and indeed for much of the first mile.

The experience was telling. I have deeply accustomed my body to running, so much so that when I do not run, I feel off across the board. I end up feeling more physically tired, and also in a bit of a funk emotionally. The feeling is not all that different from the withdrawals I have when I stop drinking coffee — as I have this week.2 The big difference? On my third day of not drinking coffee, I’m back to normal: no more more headaches, no more fatigue, no more irritability to fight. Caffeine withdrawals are annoying, but they go away fairly quickly.3 The impact of not running, or even of just running less than I normally do, goes on for much longer and is much worse.

I’m hoping that that experience will hammer home emotionally for me what I’ve long known intellectually: I do better — much better — when I’m running. That not only includes when I’m traveling; it actually goes double when traveling! That feeling will, I hope, help me stay motivated to get out for a run more consistently, and thereby to do better at everything surrounding travel, going forward.

A final note, illustrating the point here: whereas until yesterday’s post I had managed no writing at all on this trip, today alone I have written over 1,200 words between this post and a long note in my Zettelkasten.

  1. Since the start of the year, I have been doing as many consecutive push-ups as I can some number of mornings out of the week. For roughly the first half of the year, that was six days a week. Since then, it has varied. Part of it was that I lost my routine when Jaimie and I went to Jamaica to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Part of it, though, was that I got bored. The new routine, starting today, is doing 100 consecutive push-ups of the hard-and-fast variety I have been doing all year, taking a minute to reset, and then doing a long, slow, touch-my-nose-to-the-ground variety, where each rep takes about 5 seconds instead of less than a single second. It’s a very different workout — which is just what I needed. ↩︎

  2. Because I am such a coffee snob that I just can’t do the coffee available where I am this week. ↩︎

  3. I hate having a mild caffeine addition, because I do not in general drink coffee for the caffeine. The previous footnote likely makes more sense in light of this reality: I drink coffee because I love the taste of truly good coffee. If I could consistently get top-notch single-origin decaf coffees, I’d do that all the time and nothing else. As such, I was delighted when Counter Culture started occasionally selling some single-origin decafs this year. ↩︎