A couple weekends ago, Shelly and I traveled 90 minutes north of our new home here in Staunton, Virginia to run the Battlefield Half Marathon in Winchester. In addition to seeking out a late-season lungbuster, we were also interested in getting a look into the Shenandoah Valley road-racing scene as we had heard that it was quite vibrant and fun.
For both of us the race went fine and after cooling down and bundling up, we headed out to the post-race gathering to enjoy the sunshine and take in the vibe. While there, Shelly told me about how she had seen a bunch of runners with cool shirts from a local running club emblazoned with the simple slogan “Live life one mile at a time” on the back. At the after-party we encountered no fewer than 30 of these shirts and couldn’t help but expand into a deep conversation about such a seemingly innocuous and simple phrase.
Here’s the thing, when you’ve been on this earth almost 50 years, that simple sentiment resonates with you. And, if you’re a runner, it resonates even more. How many of us, out on a run, have felt that deep-down visceral need to just go one mile more? How many of us, in our jobs, have found ourselves needing to trudge through that one more mile? And, how many of us, in life, with all of its foibles, can often do nothing more than just slog through another mile? The truth is, sometimes, maybe most times, it’s all we really need to do. And running teaches us how, each time we lace them up and head out the door.
Really, when all is said and done, we just need to live life one mile at a time. But that can be hard. As runners, many of us are planners, schemers, arrangers, and perhaps even manipulators. At our best we are dreamers and in our darker times we can be a bit narrow. However, we are hardwired to know that life goes on and we can make it go on a little bit better when we bust out that one more mile.
Those of us who’ve toiled at this for decades know, intrinsically, that the life worth living is ultimately that which we live one mile at a time. That life that stares us down and challenges us to do and be better. That life that questions who we are and what we do. That life that, eventually, says, just put one foot in front of the other and go. Because sometimes that’s all you can do and all that you are meant to do. When it all gets added up at the end, we know that one more mile will lead to one more and then one more and then one more. Eventually, we have to believe, that doing what we do best makes us our best.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Bridge Brew Works in Fayetteville, West Virginia. Their Dun Glen Dubbel is a paean to those classic monastic Belgian dark beers we’ve grown to love. Even though this particular brew is dedicated to an entirely different sort, the coal baron of 19th century West Virginia, it nonetheless delivers.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- Do you run or live by the one-step-at-a-time or one-mile-at-a-time motto?
- If so, is this by the choice of trying to stay in the moment, by desperation in efforting to keep up, or for another reason?
- What have you learned from biting off a run or some part of life in little, moment-to-moment chunks?