Relentlessness and consistency are strange cousins. One is high stress and all action. The other is measured and resolute. They mean the same thing, Jekyll and Hyde, addiction and devotion, obsession and love.

When I am piling up miles, it can feel like feeding a beast that will never be full.

I have goals. Those goals are big, because that’s the nature of goals, and I daydream about accomplishing them, because I want to be the person who can accomplish big things. It’s easy to dream. It’s harder to back out the goal, break it down into constituent parts, map a course to it, and then, above all, to do the work.

Consistency is king, they say, which is neat enough. Slow and steady wins the race, they say.

Sure. Easy. Remain calm. Focus on process. Arrive at goal.

But the reason we talk about goals and accomplishments so much is that they distract from the work. That’s what I was talking about when I wrote The Marathon as Fad Diet, that when we put the goal in front, or even pretend that the goal itself is/was the point, then we’re not looking at the actual work, which never ends.

It never ends.

I strive for consistency, which is a battle with relentlessness.

Mostly, I feel cheerful about that. Other times, without my interest in achieving goals diminishing, I lose interest in the day-to-day work, or begin to feel it’s a job more than an adventure. I’m checking boxes. I’m dispatching responsibilities.

I don’t run to be responsible. I run as a sort of cosmic ‘fuck you.’ Running is pushing back against inertia and entropy and my day job(s). Running is escape and celebration and the acceptance of a sort of cruel dare. The banality of some runs calls all that into question, the balance between the work and the goal, the boredom of regular rebellion, the creeping suspicion that the run is actually running you and not the other way around.

Where is the exit? How do I get from responsibility back to resistance?

Run faster. Let it hurt. Run farther. Off schedule. Against reason and planning. Run someplace the fuck else. Pardon my language, but consistency, if not watched closely, can kill you as it tips over into a relentlessness you can’t manage or a boredom you can’t overcome.

Sometimes you have rest, to reset. And sometimes you have to break yourself to get whole again.