Cloverdale, Kilimanjaro, Mackinac Island, Masaka, Redding + New York's Hudson River
Races you'll love running + weekly recommendations
One of the most thoughtful and interesting writers on running, sport and human potential that I’ve come across in recent years is Sabrina Little, an assistant professor at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University who also writes often for the website IRunFar.
A student of philosophy and religion, Little often looks back to the ancients to study wisdom and virtue, and to learn what we can apply in our lives today from what they handed down to us. Which means that, when you read her columns, you’ll encounter the likes of Aristotle and Plato, among many others.
In her column this week, titled “Taking Humanity Seriously in Sports,” she speaks to the concerns of the athlete in midlife — the person who loves being active and loves to go after big dreams in whatever their chosen sport is. (Little’s is ultrarunning, though what she writes could apply to really anything that involves finding your potential as an athlete.)
What strikes me about the column is its awareness of how the desire to achieve — whether it’s in a sport, or in any activity, really — must be balanced with the rest of life. That we ought to acknowledge that being human, by definition, means being limited; whether that’s in our energy, the time we have available to pursue a sport, or the circumstances of our lives that may require us to care for others.
So much of the advice we find online, especially in social media, can be completely divorced from these realities. It can feel like the only people who are being spoken to about achieving — whether it’s as a runner, or really in any sphere of life — are those who can devote 100 percent of their energies to it 100 percent of the time.
Maybe it’s because theirs are the only stories who are being told, Little writes — and maybe we just need to tell more, and different, stories too:
“I started ultrarunning in college when I had a lot of free time. Training was one of my highest commitments. Now I have a family and a job. I still train to compete well, but my training is a subsidiary concern after making sure my children and students are attended to and cared for.
Naturally, sometimes these commitments impede my ability to run with the kind of sharpness I had previously. But I want to believe that this does not mean I am less of a runner. I am as much of a runner when I am pushing a stroller, as when I am all alone. I am as much of a runner when I train after a night of minimal sleep from baby wake-ups or writing projects, as when I run after nine full hours of sleep. And I am as much of a runner when I compete infrequently to stay home on weekends because babies don’t keep…
Part of taking humanity seriously in sport is to recognize the many excellent ways to be a runner. Not all of them are about peak performance. Let’s tell these stories, too.”
Amen to that! In the meantime, have an amazing run out there today, wherever you are in the world — and let me know how your running/life is going!
🏃 To run
🍇 Cloverdale Vineyard Races. A gorgeous run along the dirt roads that wind through Sonoma County’s Asti Winery, when the fall leaves are turning ablaze with color. The race takes places in a small town that lies about 90 miles from San Francisco and just outside Healdsburg, one of the most popular destination towns in the Northern California wine country. Throughout the course, you’ll run on packed, groomed dirt roads past hillsides filled with row after row of wine grapes (as well as a few paved roads, as you’ll be running through a working vineyard) taking in the scenery along the banks of the Russian River and the Alexander Valley all around. Set for October 22, 2023.