new years solutions.

"While the fates permit, live happily; life speeds on with hurried step, and with winged days the wheel of the headlong year is turned."

- the Roman philosopher Seneca the Stoic

Another round of ceremonial balls has dropped, fireworks have fired and "first kisses" have been planted with wandering eyes peeking expectantly at the shrouded days ahead, all signals of the rearrival of the time for life altering affirmations.

When and why it was decided that the first of the year is when this should occur, I often wonder.

And, since we're bothering to pose questions, has any New Years resolution ever seen the month of May?  If so, wasn't it far more than that to begin with and, as such, due just action prior to the prompting of a new calendar being tacked to the wall?

I'll say this (try and stop me), whatever the impetus, change for the better is better than NOT changing and doing so (not doing so?) for the worse.  I'm all for finding what it is that drives you and, well, letting it drive you.

One need not be a runner (or about to be one) to be someone who makes resolutions, but it does seem that the two classifications are often one and the same.

This will be the year to run faster, to get stronger.  A year to go farther.  Run smarter.

It's time to slim down.  To bulk up.  To lose weight, lift weights.  To amass muscle.

A time to diet.  To change one's diet.  To eat less red meat.  Eat no meat.  Load carbs, avoid carbs, be free of fat, of cholesterol, of gluten.  To be free.

This year speed work will be incorporated.  More hills will be repeated.  Intervals will happen.  Fartleks?  Laps at the track?  Negative splits?  Back-to-backs?  Check.

Gonna finally run a 5K, a half, a full, an ultra, a whatever comes after that.  Gotta up the mileage.  Road miles, trail miles, mixed miles.  Miles and miles and miles.

Miles that lead to PRs, to age group awards, to podiums, perhaps.

In keeping with our bee-buzzing culture, all this game planning over a fresh clean calendar demands that we fill all that blank space.  There it sits...blankly.  If the calendar isn't filled, what's the point of all these new resolutions?  Fill it.

Must.  Fill.  It.

Well, honestly, I've got nothing.

Or maybe I'm foolish enough to think I've got everything.  Or something close to it.

I'm no different than any other ultrarunner.  I already had my calendar and had even penciled in a few preliminary races.  With others that I'd like to do in mind, if not on paper.  Races that I  still may do some day.

Or not.

It really doesn't matter to me.  Not as much as I sense others think it should. But motivation is mine to find just as it is for them. I have and always will root for others to meet their goals whether those goals are similar or dissimilar to my own.

But, me, I picked up that pencil, spun it around and erased the few entries that inhabited given spaces on the calendar.  After "unfilling" my calendar, I wrote three letters in the box reserved for January 1st.


I wrote it again on the 2nd, the 3rd and each day thereafter in January before flipping the page and the next page and the next until there were no more open dates.  Those races to which I'd already committed were added back but only in small print at the very bottom of each of their corresponding compartments.

No, I don't have any explosive intentions for ANY day much less the entire year.  I too couldn't live with an empty calendar but I'm convinced that the most important goals for me, personally, have nothing to do with speed, with specific distances or any particular badge of honor event.

Not really.

Instead of always prepping for upcoming challenges, training for the next race, being excited for something that WILL happen, I simply want to continue to embrace every moment WHILE it is happening.  Racing can and will be part of those many moments but, in no way, is it, has it been or ever will it be the sole definer of who I am or how fulfilling life is.

And, in the end, the clock's report just doesn't matter.  Not to me.

I think I may have thought it did.  Until I really stopped to think about it.  And then I realized that it doesn't and that I was wrong.

It really doesn't matter at all.

The most rewarding of race days, for me, have had nothing to do with the final time.  The races that really demanded endurance, the overcoming of obstacles, physical or mental, stand out even though the finish lines weren't reached until many, many other runners had crossed there first.  Days of failure, from a competitive standpoint, are anything but failings if bonds were formed and strengthened, if laughter was shared.

Recollections of the small handful of races that resulted in finishes closer to the front of the pack are faint.  In fact, while running alone the other morning and beginning to put these thoughts together I recognized fondly that I can't actually recall what my fastest times are at any given distance.  And I hope that doesn't change even if my efficiency or performance should improve.  It's just not of importance to me and I can't and won't try and convince myself otherwise.

I'm not abandoning racing or attempting to rain on anyone else's competitive parade, but the closer I pay attention to what motivates and makes me feel alive, the more inspired I am by the things that often go overlooked, that take place without the fanfare of a starting gun or a bag full of swag.  Adventure lurks everywhere and quiet bolsters the spirit as much as cheers.  Solitude is so precious, so miraculous.  It balances and in turn makes me that much more appreciative of the opportunities to spend time with friends, encouraging and being encouraged.  THAT is what keeps "racing" interesting not the competition to see who's done what and how.

At pissing contests, I'd just as soon be the guy with the empty bladder.

Call it my resolution or, as I prefer, a philosophy that I've slowly carved out and to which I have fully subscribed.  I will continue to seek and find the adventure in the everyday.  To relish quiet whenever and wherever it can be found.  And all the while to cherish and nurture friendships.

Every day.  Every TODAY.

Today, not tomorrow.






  1. Makes me think that it was actually one year ago this weekend that I met you and Gary at a race...Phunt. And really it is amazing all of the memories over this year of running with you and other new friends that has been so great. But it is always a treasure to get out on the trails alone and just run. Good times. Good times.

    1. You said it, Stacey! Cheers to another great day and another great day and another...!

  2. Yet another reason to love trails and ultras more than roads and traditional distances. Personally, I can have that attitude when the distances and terrain are irrational, but the more traditional courses and distances are where I fall into those old traps. Not that they're necessarily traps, as I do think there's some value in trying to beat old PRs... the problem is you can never replicate the weather, the training and the guy you were back then, so what's the point in trying? All of which goes to say I'm not as cured as you are, Leon... but I hope to get there. :)

  3. Hey, Marcus! Don't let my comments read too heavy handed (beware the son of a preacher man) or suggest complacency. I don't think there's anything (at all) wrong with striving for faster times, but it takes away from my personal enjoyment if I'm too focused on that. Plus, I'm not nearly as fast as you to begin with! Makes it pretty easy to say "it doesn't matter how fast you go" when you don't go very fast, eh? Anyway, you're doing what you love and its evident!

  4. Sweet reflections, Leon! I hope to see you tomorrow at the Phunt but if not then some other today and soon! :o)
    Best New Year's regards, -Mark (of the Pumping Station crew)

  5. Hey, Mark! I'll be there tomorrow...even if my fitness isn't. With or without it, I will be having fun. It's been too long since I've been out with a big group and I'm looking forward to it. Will see you there for sure. Thanks for reading!

  6. Leon,

    Thanks for this post. It's a wonderful reminder to refocus on the things that are right here in front of us. It was great seeing you on Sat. Basking in the warm January sun after the run was the highlight of my day. Did you end up doing the second lap?

    Jim (PSR crew)

    1. Skipped the second lap to do that same sun basking with friends. Not sure if it had anything to do with my performance, but my whole household was sick all of this next week. One lap or two, I had a blast at Phunt and it was greating see you and your whole crew. 'Til next time!

  7. I understand your point of view and perspective. The spirit of running comes from within and to fuel that fire we must stay within. When external influences and motivations are added, we slowly take away from the spirit within. Dividing the spirit. We should not compare ourselves to others in order fuel the spirit; it actually dilutes it. Competition only fuels the ego, which we all have and ae born with.

    With all that said, balance is key. We must each find what works for us, fueling spirit first and feeding the ego as necessary.

    At least, that's my perspective....

    1. Great stuff, Matthew. Thanks for reading and sharing. I definitely know several folks who seem to derive healthy growth from competition but I don't think I count myself among them. Of course, as a middle of the packer, I'd have ego to starve not feed!