In a previous post, I mentioned the mental (some would say spiritual) and nourishing benefits of running outdoors. I neglected one very important benefit from being out there day after day in all kinds of weather: toughness. We live in a culture where it is acceptable to go to great lengths to be more comfortable. Our race for comfort leads to an unsustainable consumption of natural resources where less than 5% of the world's population nearly 40% of the world's resources. But comfort does more insidious damage to the mind and body. It enervates us. Unless the mind is pushed, it forgets how to think clearly and becomes stupid. Unless the body is pushed, it de-conditions and becomes sickly and weak.

Running outdoors tests the mind and body. We celebrate the beautiful days and test ourselves on the gray, cold days. We go out when it is worse than merely gray and cold. Why? Because it toughens. Why do we need to toughen? Because we build artificial bubbles of comfort around ourselves. These are unsustainable on the national level but also on a personal level. Sooner or later, disease and old age will burst that bubble. That bubble will burst more easily and sooner if we are not tough in mind and body.