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Showing posts from January, 2011

Effort as an Organ of Perception

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Running is a simple thing. In some ways the simplicity of running--its very emptiness and absurdity as a task that literally ends where it begins--is what makes it fascinating. Running is like an empty page, a kind of tabula rasa, upon which we etch our daily mark.

It is strange to think that all the libraries of the world were once white pages, but inside each book sits a florid and turgid world, a reservoir of meaning carved out of emptiness. Just as the whiteness of the page provides a stimulus to the meaning-making power of the human mind, so too does the simplicity of running call forth a multiplicity of interpretations. Running is many things exactly because it is so simple.

I think I can expand on what I mean by this by referring to the metaphysics of John Dewey. Dewey had a name for the basic character of all experience. The word he used was interaction. He saw that our lives were essentially built out of a multiplicity of interactions. We leave our marks on the world through…

Interview: Jamey Gifford

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This interview is the second in a series of exchanges with local elite runners. These are the guys and women who train hard, take their running seriously, and work to compete--and win--on a local and national level. For all of these folks, running is a hobby. None of them make a living doing it. They continue to represent the best of amateurism, the idea that excellence in athletic endeavor is valuable for many reasons beyond financial compensation.

Jamey Gifford and I trained together every day back in the "glory days" at Baylor High School in Chattanooga, TN. We were a part of back to back state championships. Jamey is one of the greatest high school runners in state history, and he made his mark on the national level. My memories of Jamey, though, have less to do with racing and more to do with the daily hammerfests around the Baylor campus during which we each honed our competitive spirits. Coach Hale gave up on trying to hold us back and just let us go. Before we knew w…

How to Run Like a Stoic

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The following piece is a guest post by "Scout7," a sporadic but long time poster on the Running Ahead message boards. I asked Scout to do this piece for two reasons. First, he is not a philosopher by training, but I have always found his insights on running to be philosophical--mindful of the place of running within the larger ethical task of living life well. Second, his posts on training and running on Running Ahead have helped me think more intelligently about how to train and have influenced my own running philosophy. I believe both of these reasons will be evident in what he has written below. Enjoy!


"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do."  
                   -- Epictetus
Jeff asked me if I would mind writing a guest post for his blog, and of course I agreed.  I mean, why not?  How hard could it be?  I write all kinds of drivel in various online forums, so this won’t be difficult at all.
Lemme tell ya, I was wrong.  I struggled…

Interview: Jamie Dial on Ultrarunning

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This interview is the first in a series of exchanges with local elite runners. These are the guys and women who train hard, take their running seriously, and work to compete--and win--on a local and national level. For all of these folks, running is a hobby. None of them make a living doing it. They continue to represent the best of amateurism, the idea that excellence in athletic endeavor is valuable for many reasons beyond financial compensation.

Most of these folks are friends that I have met during my time as a runner. They have offered me untold amounts of training advice, motivated me to get out the door, whipped my butt in races, and shared many a post-run beverage. Though this sort of runner is not famous at a national level, they are often locally known and help establish and maintain local standards of racing and training.


I met Jamie Dial about two miles into my first attempt at a trail 50k, the 2003 Stumpjump 50k in Chattanooga, TN. I knew nothing about racing and running …