Exploratory Running and Walking: Enjoyment, Strategy, and Survival Opportunities


By Graham Smith

One of the benefits of just getting out and exploring one’s immediate surroundings — boring and banal as they may seem at first — is finding all kinds of interesting things and opportunities you never knew were there. With awareness, there will always be an infinity of things to notice, even if, for example, you are just staring at a spot on the wall. A special shadow, a barely visible crack that had always been there but went unnoticed, an off-color spot in the paint. The more one looks, the more one sees.

While I don’t write this article to encourage people to watch the paint on their walls every day (though this can actually be quite a fascinating experience), I do write it to share some thoughts on something I’ve always loved — exploratory walking and running. Or, if the word “exploratory” sounds a bit too much here, and pretentious, just walking and running around to see what you can see.

Not only is this a healthy way to clear one’s mind, gather refreshing inspiration, and stay fit, it is also an excellent opportunity given the state of societies across the globe today, to start making purposeful mental notes about one’s surroundings, for the interest not only of fun and exploration, but survival itself.


Image: yamap.com


Mental Mapping for Strategic Purposes: Hiding, Stashing, Dead Drops, Fighting, and Allies

I know many people enjoy making fun of so-called “preppers” and other such folks who understand that conspiracy is a reality and that we are living in a world oppressed by sociopaths and their devoted masses of cult followers. But, this article isn’t for them. I’m guessing you, reader, are an Agorist and are already in the same basic headspace as I am, so I’ll skip the foreplay and get right to it: making notes of your surroundings with pursuit by the state in mind, or survival of state/infrastructure/societal collapse in mind, is what this is about.

Returning to the awareness theme above, you may be surprised to find all the survival aids and potential opportunities that exist in your own backyard. In every city and town I’ve lived in or visited at-length, pretty much, I have been a walker. More recently, a runner. This wasn’t always because I wanted to “exercise,” per se. It was usually because I was restless and interested in finding something new.

I often take new, unknown routes on purpose. Tiny alleys. Trails through the woods. I try to take as many of them as I can, to see what is going on. Garbage cans, gardens, conversations from apartment windows, someone working on a car in their back alley garage, a new park on the mountaintop, an abandoned building hidden behind other buildings, a dilapidated temple surrounded by trees and weeds on an overgrown hilltop. Today, for example, I found a lake I had no idea existed:



The survival value all this can have is also clear. If you are on the run or are attempting to vanish undetected in the midst of chaos, having a highly detailed mental map of your surroundings will be a big bonus. And just like that spot on the wall, the more you look, the more you see. “Aha, there is a stream here I could drink from.” “An abandoned shack there for temporary shelter.” “An unmarked trail up the side of that mountain.” “A ladder to a rooftop with a strategic view for defense.” “An impossibly thin space between two buildings no one would likely think to look down.” “Fruit trees we can eat from.” “A hilltop clearing where we could build a village.” The list goes on.

As a brief aside: For a great example of how this can work — though I do not agree with this individual’s intermittent violations of private property — check out the YouTube channel “Vagrant Holiday.” This individual goes to foreign countries and basically lives on nothing but what he has in his backpack, and does not stay in hotels. Well. Not legally.

In exploring your surroundings by walking or running all over, you will begin to connect roads, paths, alleys, and landmarks in a way most people do not. You will know where one tiny road lets out and connects to another, and where there are dead ends. God forbid, but if you needed to defend yourself against or escape from a violent party, this knowledge could be invaluable. How about stashing supplies or hiding packages to be picked up by others secretly via dead drop? There are probably a million-and-one places suitable for this in your immediate vicinity.

Awareness. Most people are not thinking in this way. I daresay even most run-of-the-mill cops probably aren’t even too good at it.


A geocached package full of warm clothes and supplies I buried for myself along the course of a long run. Dead drop deliveries can be a good way to pass supplies to others, as well.


The final thing I’ll mention in this section, and one of the most critical, is that with a little networking combined with mental mapping (and even physical map creating, if you like), you’ll get an idea where you have allies and pockets of relative safehaven in your area should shit hit the fan. After all, one never knows when their beautiful little neighborhood is going to turn into a shitty, state-controlled, martial law hellhole. Or a relatively abandoned area now full of desperate people who care little for property and self-ownership. And who are now hungry for your food. It may help immensely to have a buddy to fight them off with you.

Worst-Case Scenario: You’ll Feel Good

The worst-case scenario where state oppression is concerned could be nightmarish. I mean, it already is a living hell for many unfortunate individuals. Those being tormented endlessly by the U.S. war machine in the Middle East. Australians unable to see their relatives, living in an Orwellian state while jackboot scum enforce absolute insanity over their lives. The worst-case scenario I am talking about here, however, is a good one: “What if I do all this mental mapping and crazy stuff preparing to run and to fight and become a guerrilla, or slip away to form a forest settlement, only for nothing to happen?”

Well, then, that’s great! And you’ll be that much more aware, happy, and in good physical shape for the effort. And a fit body will make your mind feel much better, too, so you can more effectively share the reality of self-ownership with others.

Bottom line: Nobody really knows exactly what is going to happen, but it can’t hurt to prepare in this way.

I wrote about much of this in a previous article on running, here, for those interested in reading more and seeing some of the runs I’ve done, where I’ve been “homeless” for very short periods of time, geocached supplies, and just gotten a taste of being a weirdo on the run, in general. I wanted to go more in-depth in this article about the mental mapping, though, and also to emphasize that one doesn’t need to be a “sporty” type to get into such exploration. In fact, the whole point is simply awareness. The other stuff is just a bonus in some sense.

So, I hope you’ll pull your shoes on this week, take a walk or run through your own backyard, and see the kingdom spread out before you. I suspect you may be surprised at what you find. Finally, if you have any tips for such mapping or survival/escape/defense/proactive settlement-creation preparations, please do share them in the comments section.


Graham Smith

Graham Smith is an American expat living in Japan, and the founder of Voluntary Japan—an initiative dedicated to spreading the philosophies of unschooling, individual self-ownership, and economic freedom in the land of the rising sun.



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