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Hi! I’m guessing 98% of you reading this already know me from my old blog, The Millennial Next Door. TMND had a great run, but was never able to live up to the mission I originally had in mind for it. It turns out I’m not great at generating content for a broadly-themed blog, so now here we are with minimal marathoner: my attempt to take the lessons of what did work and turn them into a blog that is a little more focused. I like to write about running and I like to write about practicing minimalism (although I was never able to develop as much content for the latter as I would have liked), so that’s what this blog will focus on.
But this blog is more than the sum of those parts. minimal marathoner is also the chronicle of a small but meaningful journey I’m now embarking on. Heat up your coffee and get comfortable, because it’s story time.
I’ve done 3 marathons, and I always approach them the same way. I set big goals for myself. I immerse myself in training, treating it like a part-time job and letting it take priority over everything besides my actual job. I become preoccupied with workout stats and improvement. I push myself to run high mileage with 1 or 2 hard workouts each week, because I have it in my head that that’s the only way I’ll be fit enough to run a good marathon.
Those habits have led to success in meeting my marathon time goals, but they’ve also left me burnt out, lacking perspective, and fighting to restore balance in my life. The benefits of “beast mode” training no longer outweigh the costs, and while I love distance running and marathon training, it’s time to make some big changes going forward.
This blog is my journey to make those changes by applying the practice of minimalism to my running life in the next year, specifically as I build up to and train for the Chicago Marathon in October 2017.
There are as many minimalisms as there are minimalists, but to me, “minimalism” simply means getting rid of excess and focusing your life only on what you really need and love.
How minimalism applies to my running life is an interesting question, and one that will involve a lot of figuring out as I go, but I can assure you of a few things that I already know will be part of my new journey:
No more splurging on new running gear “just because”. The amount of money I’ve spent on cool new running clothes adds up to hundreds of dollars, and I really need that money for other things now. Until my 3 pairs of trusty Brooks wear out, I already have everything I need to run.
One of the project ideas I’m toying with for this blog is to keep a running/marathon spending diary – like a food diary or a training log, but with the money I spend specifically related to running and marathon training. I think it will help hold me accountable to training minimally, but I also just think it will be really interesting.
Training smarter, not harder. My priority for my next marathon (and any races leading up to it) is to enjoy the experience and run my own race, whatever pace that happens to be. I won’t be running 5-6 times per week unless I want to, because it’s not necessary. I won’t be forcing myself to hit 55-60 mile weeks if I don’t want to, because it’s not necessary. I won’t be doing 1-2 hard speed workouts every single week, because that’s not necessary either. I want to simplify my training to focus only on the running I need and want to do to finish a marathon strong and healthy. I don’t need to keep up with how hard other runners are working or give into my unfounded fear of not doing enough.
Running mindfully and with peace. I’m about to come off a 4 week running hiatus. I voluntarily took this hiatus when years of chasing goals and putting pressure on myself finally came to a head and I couldn’t enjoy the sport anymore. That was a big part of the motivation behind starting a minimalist running journey. Running is something I do because it brings happiness and vitality into my life, and I need to eliminate all the things that get in the way of that: placing too much value on speed and improvement, comparing myself to other runners, excessive social media posting of workout stats and race times that other runners will compare themselves to, taking running too seriously, and failing to have perspective and keep balance in my life.
Those are just the running things, but I also intend to take the theme of minimal marathoner to heart and incorporate minimalism practice into my blogging by trying to write more minimally as well. Obviously, based on this 1,100+ word post, that goal is a work in progress. But it’s coming. I’m going to be selecting content more mindfully and putting more effort into editing my posts. I’m still the same ol’ me, just trying to convey thoughts, ideas, and experiences with fewer unnecessary words.
I don’t really consider myself “a minimalist”. When I told Kevin about my new blog he said to me, “but you don’t really have a minimalist lifestyle..?” And I said, “but I’m trying!” Every journey has to start somewhere, and to use an obvious metaphor, I’d rather this blog begin at the starting line, not the finish line. Well – I don’t actually believe a finish line exists in minimalism, but my point is that I’m not trying to brand myself as a minimalist or this blog as a place you can come to for advice and how-tos about living a minimalist lifestyle. It’s intended to document my own journey into minimalism practice and hopefully hold me more accountable than I have been in the past.
Which brings me to my final point – this blog isn’t intended to be prescriptive. I’m not trying to criticize or advocate for any particular training mode or lifestyle; my intent, again, is simply to document my own journey. I understand that the way I’m choosing to go about this is different than the way many runners prefer to train and spend their money. If you fall into that camp, I do hope that you’ll still find my journey interesting and enjoy following along anyway. My intent is not to be preachy or divisive, and I’m going to try my absolute best not to come off that way; I know the perception of those particular attitudes turn many people off from minimalist writers.
What do you think of the spending diary idea – is it something you’d be interested in seeing on here?