One of my favorite books related to running is Once a Runner by John L. Parker, jr. The story focuses on both grit and having a growth mindset. As the protagonists discuss their practice for a race they often mention, “trials of miles and miles of trials.” It is an incredibly succinct way to show how they are willing to test themselves through their runs while their runs test them as well. Whenever I am on a run, a hike, or a long walk I can’t help but here the phrase ringing through my head. It reminds me that each footstep is a test of my soul, my willingness to grit it out and continue. It reminds me that that there is no finish line for the test, it will continue for at least the rest of my life. Trials of miles. Miles of trials. The path to joy.
Why in the world do I bring that up today?
This morning we loaded up our backpacks with weight and headed out to Twin Bluffs State Park in MN. With our trip to Isle Royale coming up in the next few months we wanted to start testing out our gear. This was the first real test of both distance and weight. My pack got loaded up to 50 pounds and was pretty close to what I would be carrying on our 40+ mile hiking trip. We knocked out a little over 5 miles on some relatively flat trails.
Throughout this trip we were adjusting straps, shifting weight, and trying out different ways to get as close to natural walking as possible. It was a definite trial run, one of many we will have before June. What was great was the ability to keep a learner’s mindset throughout as this was our initial test. As we continue to test out what works best we’ll keep slowly getting it all dialed in.
Though we may be able to figure out what the ideal set up is I’m already planning on things not going as planned on the trip. Something may break. Something may change. Something unexpected will happen. At that point I’ll still be walking my trial of mile and miles of trials. You know what? I’m thankful for the trials – they mean that I’m living intentionally. I’m thankful for the miles – they provide the opportunity to test myself.
Trials of miles and miles of trials… how beautiful is that?