The Peace Of Repetition

AJW writes about the repetitive elements of running.

By on December 8, 2017 | Comments

AJW's TaproomThe route of my daily morning run starts at my front doorstep, descends a small hill, crosses the main street of our town, and proceeds down a quiet country lane to a small city park. This time of year, while running in the pre-dawn darkness, my attention during these early miles is drawn inexorably to the sound of my footsteps on the pavement. Something about the rhythmical, repetitive pitter patter of my running stride seems more pronounced in the quiet cold of early winter mornings.

Typically, by the time I circle the city park and venture into the hills surrounding the park, my focus has drifted to more substantial things and away from the simple and ordinary sound of my footfalls. But for those first precious moments of awakening, it is all about the footsteps.

Yesterday, as my mind wandered to other things some 30 minutes into my run, I found myself dwelling on repetition. Repetition has always fascinated me. On one hand, repetition gets a bum rap as it is often considered boring, mind-numbing, and trivial. Indeed, since the Industrial Revolution, typically repetitive tasks, whether in the workplace or in the home, have been relegated to second-class status the world over. Yet, on the other hand, repetition, in all its forms, is essential for the mastery of a great many things in life. Drills, whether they are in math class, basketball practice, or music rehearsal, have always been a fundamental part of successful practice in a wide swath of our human challenges.

And so it is with running that I have come to embrace and celebrate repetition. Not just as a drill that brings success to my practice but also as a meditative process that brings me peace. While some see running as drudgery, I see it as an act of liberation. In its deliberative, practical, and often metronomic repetition, running opens me up to a world of rich imagination, thoughtful creativity, and deeper thinking. It is, in fact, through repetition that I am drawn out of the mundane and, in the best of circumstances, exposed to the sublime.

So the next time your motivation wanes and the thought of another boring run brings you down, focus upon repetition. Draw yourself into the process of running, of training, of living the life of a runner. A life of repetition and revelation. A place where even in the midst of another Wednesday morning slog through the park, wonder can be found and a life can be changed.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Blue Nelson Brewery Full Nelson Pale AleThis week’s Beer of the Week is Full Nelson Virginia Pale Ale from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Virginia. This crisp, almost fruity American Pale Ale is a diamond in the rough in the crowded Pale Ale market of central Virginia. Full Nelson is one of those beers that maintains its complexity even after one or two. If you’re in town for the Hellgate 100k this weekend, be sure to give this one a try!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • How do you feel about the repetitive actions and behaviors that come along with our sport?
  • Is there a repetitive element of your stride that you hone in on to help you focus, or even to help your focus fade?
  • What about the repetitive act of running over the course of your lifetime or a long period of time? Is there a part of that repetition with which you struggle? A part that you love?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.