Run the Mile You're In: Halfway Points, Intentions, and Presence

I have fallen into a questionably healthy habit (according to my hamstring, at least) of running for very long stretches at a time. Four, six, and eight hour runs have become fairly standard in my training cycles; I crave the opportunity to push myself, mentally and physically, to do more, just as I crave the exhaustion they bring. This habit has taught me many things, but of those things, this one stands out: Run the mile you're in. 

Halfway through a 50k is (approximately) 16 miles.

Here's the thing about 16 miles: it's a lot of miles, no matter how you look at it.

Spend too long thinking about how far you've already gone, and your mind and body become exhausted with recognition of what you've done. I've already run sixteen miles. Am I not done yet?

Spend too long thinking about how far is yet to go, and your mind and body become exhausted with the sheer weight of what's to come. I have sixteen miles left. I'll never get there.

It's a lesson I've found invaluable in life as well as running: presence is about more than attention. It's about recognizing where I am in a process, where we are in a process, acknowledging how far we've come and how far is left to go, knowing how to get to a finish line, whatever that may look like, all while holding on to what is immediate.


New year's resolutions have never quite been my cup of tea; too much changes between January 1st and December 31st each year to know what, exactly, I want to expect of myself in that period. In the past, when I've attempted to craft resolutions for myself, they are overwhelmingly influenced by the confluence of holidays and year-end trips: I will eat better, I will take care of myself, I will make time to journal, I will declutter.

Those are all excellent goals, to be sure, but they don't feel as relevant in June, when the sun is shining, produce can be found in abundance at farmers' markets on every street corner, and I've renewed my somewhat-stalled yoga practice.

So instead of resolutions, I've been working on intentions: daily, weekly, monthly. Occasionally these intentions repeat, day over day, week over week, month over month--in part because they are never complete, and in part because they are newly relevant as the situation of my life shifts and moves and changes, as lives tend to do.

Sometimes these are small things:

Put your phone down. Pick your journal up. 

Sometimes they are large:

Be present.
Give yourself credit.
Accept what cannot be completed.


We've passed the summer solstice, meaning our days will get shorter from here until December 21st. June is rapidly waning, marking an "official" end to the first half of 2018. We're at a halfway point in more ways than one.

It hasn't been easy lately, halfway through whatever it is we are halfway through. The news frequently makes me weep. I've withdrawn from many social channels because of the sheer inundation of updates, but also because of the vitriol on display there; I do not choose to pretend this anger is not real, present, and impacting our daily lives, but neither can I steep myself in it and keep going. I am learning to walk the line between presence and protection; I am recognizing the privilege inherent in the fact that this is a choice I get to make.


I do not have resolutions for the second half of this year, but I do have intentions.

My partner and I are moving this summer, which means many past "intentions" will become necessary realities: declutter, count our pennies, accept that we will be unable to do all the things and figure out how to prioritize what most needs doing.

And even while recognizing that, I realize my intentions are larger than that. I intend to be kind--with others and with myself. I intend to understand how our systems are broken, and look for ways to fix them--even if, or perhaps especially if, that fixing requires dismantling them completely. I intend to remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can, at that precise moment in time, with the tools available to them. I intend to remind myself that I am doing the same, even when my best is not as good as I would like it to be.


I have a mantra for difficult runs. It's not running-related, per se. It's more like a pep talk. You are doing a great job, I tell myself.

You are doing a great fucking job.

Even when that great is not as great as you'd like it to be. Even when your intentions have to shift because of things outside of your control. Even when you are drowning in a news cycle that seems compelled to bring you down, then bring you lower, then keep you there.

You are still doing a great job, in the moment you are in, with the tools you have available.

We are at a halfway point -- of the year, of an election cycle, of this race we are in. Run the mile you're in, friends. Be intentional about where you are going, about where we need to go. Give yourself credit for how far you've come already, how far we've come. Find a way to make yourself present in a way that serves you--and those around you.



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