Training rides, training runs, swim sessions, strength training, and the list goes on. For a lifestyle that revolves so much around being outside, it seems the actual being outside is an afterthought. Often we go out to run or ride a pre-determined number of miles or go for a certain number of hours on a loop we have done many times already. To people not involved in athletics, there is an air of freedom to the lifestyle but how often do we actually embody that way of being? Not often enough I think. A lot of our training is done for its own sake and not for the experience of moving through the world and breathing the outside air. Granted, not every time is going to get you “in the zone” or “runners high” or “flow” but I think we could all try to slow down (maybe not literally) and take in a bit more of our surroundings and be mindful of how lucky we are to be able to push our bodies the way we do. Even on those familiar and dare I say blasé loops, those are our homes, we live our lives on those roads, in those cities, or in the mountains. It is where we wish we could be when we are bogged down with the weights of daily life.
Each opportunity to go out should be reframed within our minds as something we are very lucky to have. Those same places we pass; the creeks, the intersections, the playgrounds, the skyscrapers, we live there and it is so important to not take those things for granted. What if the next day, they were all gone or your ability was gone. How badly we would wish for just one more opportunity to explore our neighborhood one more time and to hear the sounds of the birds. We must remember to break routine and explore. There is much to be seen, even in our figurative back yards. Load the bike in the car and take a drive to a new town, bring your wetsuit to a state park, or hike to a backcountry creek to go fly fishing. Don’t go to go, go to be there. Call a friend and invite them along, buy lunch and a good beer (enjoy responsibly). Have experiences with people and in places. Bring more of your life into your athletic practice and see how you grow as a person. I think you’ll absolutely surprise yourself.