Meadows

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My meadow is one of my favorite tools. You may not have a meadow, but bear with me. This isn't one of those annoying instructions that tell you to use something you don't have. "First, take your meadow..." This is really about tools.

I think one trick to the hot pursuit of happiness is taking inventory--counting your tools once in a while. Tools are like blessings in the rough. You have to convert them into something useful. Don't tell me what you don't have: time, or motivation, or energy, or supportive people, or a meadow. Tell me what you have. We can work with that.

The meadow is the reason we live here. Eleven years ago, Dorothy was driving around with a realtor. She spotted the 30 acres surrounded by woodland, and before she even saw the house she was ready to make an offer. There were a few  problems: the house (built by Shakers in 1810) had only one bathroom, the kitchen was so small it almost didn't exist, corn cobs composed most of the insulation, and the place wasn't for sale.

We ended up buying it. I won't explain how except that you have to know Dorothy. It's not like we were rich. I was about to quit my job, and she hadn't worked full-time for 20 years. But we made it work. We used our tools. I wrote a book on argument and telecommuted as the editorial director of Southwest Airlines' inflight magazine. She began a successful career as a fundraiser. I roamed the 150 acres (counting the meadow and surrounding woodlands), putting in miles of ski trails by hand. And the meadow became my training tool.

A farmer hays it once a year (using the same tractor for 58 years), so the grass isn't usually as high as in the picture. From the house to the woods is almost exactly a quarter mile, so up and back--a "meadow"--is a half mile. On the edge of the meadow sits Drinking Rock, where previous owners (and the current ones) liked to have an occasional cocktail. It's the ideal height for jumping. 

So on a normal running morning, I do an Insanity routine before strapping on a headlamp and warming up with a few meadows. Then I hit the road, running toward Cardigan Mountain. (That's Cardigan in the picture.) On some days I just do speed work on the meadow, using Drinking Rock for plyo.

You may have the equivalent of a meadow: runnable stairs in your apartment or office building, a nearby park or greenspace. Or you may have something entirely different that tells you to do a different sport. A climbing wall, say, or an amazing pool or a rowing club. Whatever makes you feel lucky to have it: That's your meadow.

The DVD workouts have done a miraculous job on my body, and they make it feel possible to run my age. But the meadow and my practice peak, Cardigan Mountain, make me feel like I won some trail-running lottery. I know how lucky I am.