If there was one thing that defined 2023 for me, it was running. I joined two-point-five run crews and got six races under my belt this summer. My best days have been on the trails near my home on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast and on the road while visiting clients in Southern California, Utah and Texas.
That contemplative trail time was a gift in and of itself, but this year I discovered two more gifts of running:
1. Physical literacy:
I spend a lot of time in my head, but running is time in my body. The more miles, the more I understand what my body needs. I eat more intuitively, know exactly which rogue root to blame for the pain in my left tibialis anterior and notice when I’m getting sick or when my body wants more sleep or water.
2. Geographical awareness:
I’m building a contextual awareness that keeps me safe in new cities, and thinking about whose land this is that I’m on—in my case the shíshálh swíya (Sechelt) people. But also I’m tuned into the places I run week after week—so I notice when the mushrooms are out later or the huckleberries are particularly abundant or the salmon run is smellier than usual. I sense how the elevation and humidity and air quality affects my breath. I can see and feel the climate changing.
Like many of us who love the outdoors, I live with a tension. I want the forest, mountains and deserts I explore to last forever. And I want to be warm and dry and smell okay while doing the things I love. I choose merino whenever I can but I also gravitate to GORE-TEX and other petroleum-based products that help maximize my time and performance outside. Frankly, those are hard things to reconcile: the gear that enables us to connect with nature is simultaneously destroying it.
But this past year, I’ve been consuming less. When we’re more in tune with our bodies and nature, we become more aware of what we need—and, more importantly, don’t need. I know better what feels good on my body, so the things I buy don’t sit in the closet unused. Instead I buy good pieces and wear them to death. I consume less because I see the impact those choices make.
So how does this apply to you, fellow marketer/brand leader/business owner?
More time moving in nature means I’m more likely to shop my values. I’m also more likely to “work” my values—to choose clients that align with and are pursuing the same climate goals. Last year Monday said no to two significant projects that misaligned with our brand pillars. Our commitment to nature (and, notably: having our commitments documented in our brand pillars) made us clearheaded about that decision.
You might not be a runner. You might be a yogi, skier, angler or cyclist. How can you use your moving time in 2024 as a meditation on embodiment and a celebration of place—and to tune into your values so you can focus on more impactful work and be more aware when there’s misalignment?
My hope is that the gift of movement helps you connect with the reason you do what you do—or puts you on a path to more meaningful work in the year ahead. Let’s push our leaders and product teams to do the same, in hopes that we all make better choices even if they are harder or more expensive. Let’s be honest about what we’re doing for the planet and what we could do better, and set ambitious goals that change the status quo.
Who wants to come along with me for that run?