Let’s Explore

Explore while running: All six of my runs from my Pigeon Forge Vacation with a beautiful sunrise photo in the middle
Written by: Andrew Ware
April 18, 2023

My story of running on vacation, and why exploring is essential to our human lifestyle

Beautiful sights and all of my runs from my Pigeon Forge Vacation…each one different.

I want to take you on a vacation run with me. 

Now to caveat this story I do want to point out that I am pretty geographically savvy and am not afraid to get lost. I often study the map of places I go to get a general layout of where we are staying/visiting.

Our cabin was on a hill so, naturally, I began my first vacation run by going down the hill (yeah, this will not be as much fun at the end). When I get to the bottom of the hill and the resort entrance, I have a decision:

Turn Left or Right?

If I turn left, I go towards a park where I can run loops or keep going down the road which goes straight out for a few miles. 

Or I can turn right and head towards Pigeon Forge. This turn also leads to more decisions. When I get to the main highway do I turn left and head toward Sevierville? Or do I turn right and head south staying in Pigeon Forge? Or do I go straight across and cross over the Little Pigeon River? 

Even these decisions lead to more decisions about which way to go. Do I turn left, right, or go straight? Or do I turn around and head back (sometimes this, because I realize I still have to run back up that hill to my cabin)? 

These sorts of questions often make up the majority of my runs (especially in new places, but also in familiar ones).

I try to get an idea on the map before I go, but most of the time I just…EXPLORE. If I see a cool trail on Strava or even a greenway map I try to find my way around. 

This is honestly the best part about running on vacation, and I think it saved my running after the high stress of Easter (that and my coach gave me a reprieve to get my mental game back). I was so stressed by the time Easter had come, even running was not fun anymore. I was ending runs short, not completing workouts, and generally not feeling comfortable on the run. However, all this changed on vacation.

There is something to be said that a change of scenery can serve as a refresh for your mind and spirit!

The bottom line is that exploration is healthy.

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It is what helps us learn and grow. I have come to know that my sense of direction is good in part because I like to explore. I plan trips well in advance and look at maps of an area to determine efficient routes and areas to make sure I explore. I love new adventures to different places or even exploring different parts of familiar places. Yes, this is inherent because I am curious, but curiosity has generally played a large role in being where I am today.

Should I turn right or left? What is the best way to do this or that? What could I improve? 

Or my favorite question: WHY?

Exploration gives space for these types of questions in our lives and, in my opinion, an inquisitive mind is comfortable in their manner of self-care. A desire to explore often comes with a basic understanding of personal growth. 

“I am seeking this information to grow in a certain area.”

When I was in seminary I knew I was terrible with finances, so I took a class on church finances. I learned very little about money, but I learned the right questions that needed to be asked as the pastor of a church. 

In my period of burnout, I sought to uncover manners and practices of self-care to reignite my passion for ministry. I explored a variety of different avenues, turning left and right and all which ways. I have had conversations, read books, and followed individuals on social media. I have examined ways to help me grow. 

Even my faith in general has been wrought with exploration. When my traditional upbringing felt problematic I began to ask questions (something my mother taught me). The more I questioned the more I deconstructed…out in the open, while I was training to be a pastor, questioning my faith. 

Exploring even feeds our passions and helps to build the communities around us.

Every time I enter a new community (by way of moving most often) my first steps usually involve understanding the local governance. I know my greatest connection in a community is with those who lead it. My exploration leads me to find ways to strengthen (hopefully) the community around me for fair and equitable life together (a manner of all persons having the ability to care for themselves).

  • What if we were all better at exploring?

  • What if we all came to an intersection and were willing to make a decision?

Yeah, there might be some fear of the unknown or even the truth that may lay before us, but it is in that zone that we can express the fullest version of ourselves. The question is always worth asking because there is growth in the answer. 

Let’s Hear From You:

What are you willing to explore?


Author

  • Andrew Ware

    My vision as the RunninRev is to build community and faith relationships through running and self-care. I have become an advocate in the church for clergy care, and helping clergy prevent or recover from burnout. I see my primary outreach to the community as building these communal structures through running and having fun together on the run.

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