Last Updated on January 17, 2022 by David Vause

For me, the transformation began at 49, when I started my quest for that first marathon. To some extent, it was a rebirth or a return to much of what I thought and believed before civilian, middle-aged, professional life intruded. I understood in my youth the primal necessity to be outside and physically engaged with my surroundings. It was just a suspicion, a belief when I was young. These years, it is a world outlook informed by science and philosophy.

I did my first two runs of the week on my treadmill. Tuesday was simply too dangerous. We had black ice everywhere. Thursday, however, I could not get myself out in the 21-degree darkness. I was back on the treadmill. Yesterday was the same. As I said at the time, I chose to sweat on the treadmill rather than shiver on the streets. Today, we have inched our way from 12F to 21F. It’s 10:45 AM with the gray skies so typical of Maryland winters. I have no reason not to run outdoors other than my aversion to being cold.

I have known from my youth that exertion outdoors is necessary for physical and mental health. Comfort enervates and leads to being sedentary; being sedentary results in physical and psychological decay. Slowly this morning, the absolute necessity of getting this next run done outdoors became apparent to me.

The byline for this journal of thoughts includes the words Stoicism, Zen, and Spartan ethos. Stoic because I do not mind the cold. Zen because I accept that the only way to connect with reality is to be in it and not this little heated cocoon I live in. Spartan because I fully understand that character grows only in the crucible. The Marines and engineering school were my biggest challenges. I have spent a lifetime benefiting from experiencing them. Today’s crucible is a short 5-miler in chilly weather with no precipitation.

I embrace it.

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