Life these days features near constant change. Family members move across the country from each other, technologies become obsolete months after they are introduced, and mid-life career changes are now the norm.
In the midst of all this upheaval, it is easy to lose a vital piece of our social lives: tradition. Tradition provides an important connection to our past, but it also provides something more.
Social theorist Anthony Giddens argues that tradition provides a framework for action that doesn’t require us to question alternative options. Tradition can therefore provide us with needed comfort and security in a world of confusing possibilities.
In the modern world, however, we are quickly losing that sense of tradition. As we move around the country, switch jobs, and change social circles, we are confronted with nearly complete autonomy and an endless array of possible actions. Without tradition to help guide our choices, we can become virtually paralyzed with options...
It is important, then, to try and find small areas of life where tradition can be recaptured, whether that is in church life, family activities, or something as simple as running.
Giddens contests that the two bases of tradition are routine and repetition -- ideas familiar to any runner. There is comfort in going out and running your morning loop, meeting your Sunday long run group, or eating pasta the night before an important race. These traditions help provide some stability in our lives and can make running a vital part of your life.
But there is another area of modern life that provides an unquestioned framework of action: addiction. Giddens argues that addictions arise, in part, to fill the void of routine and repetition created by the loss of tradition.
The very nature of running can foster compulsive tendencies, and before you know it the routine of your Sunday long run is forcing you to miss other activities with friends and family. We can become obsessed with increasing mileage week after week, always chasing a higher number. Given this potential for unhealthy obsession, it is important to make sure that your routines and habits don’t lead to addiction.
As we head into spring, take some time to analyze your own routines. Get together with some friends and create a new exercise tradition. But, remember to never let your running control the choices you make -- in a world of endless possibilities, there’s no need to limit yourself!