Happiness is Running Down a Trail

Not my trail, but a good representation I found on flickr.

Not my trail, but a good representation.

Wow, I had the BEST run yesterday! Sadly, once again, I was short on sleep. I know that isn’t good for me and I almost didn’t go at all. The weather, though, was just perfect. It was the kind of summer day you spend the other three months of the year dreaming about. With it being the first part of August, there are only so many of those left, so I threw on my shoes and headed out. I am glad I did!

I knew I wasn’t at my best, so I decided to try to change things up a little and try a different park. I wanted something that would inspire and motivate my mind. So… I decided to trail run! I’ve been wanting to run on trails since I first thought of running. Before I even bought my shoes, I went to a Run Clinic to learn good form running. While the class was waiting for everyone to show up and settle in, the trainer ran a video of Anton Krupicka. There he was, bouncing through the woods and over streams, and I thought, I want that! Forget that he wears minimal shoes and runs endurance races, that wasn’t what got me, what I wanted was to run out in nature. It called to every part of me.

There is a park near my office that I’ve wanted to run since the beginning. The last time, I tried though, it was spring and it was completely flooded. I ended up doing laps around the picnic area instead. I don’t know why I haven’t been back there, “once burned,” I guess. Last night, when I hopped on our county website to look for a new park to run in, that one popped up. It’s been a fairly dry couple of months, so I decided it was time to try it again.

It was running through a meadow like this where I wished I was wearing longer pants.

It was running through a meadow like this that I wished I was wearing longer pants.

Here’s the tricky part – I don’t know this park at all. I’ve never explored it and because it is all winding trails through the woods – you can’t see that far ahead. On the map, there are a couple of paths that make big loops, but it isn’t like that when you get there. It appears that most of the folks that go there go to walk their dogs, but they only go so far. The first part of the trail is well traveled and well marked, but after a certain part it becomes… dicey. There are several break off trails, but they are so small it is hard to tell they are real trails or deer paths. I did my best to keep to the main path, but it wasn’t marked: no blazes, nothing. There was one section through a meadow where the weeds were so tall I started to wonder if I was heading in the right direction! I ended up back in the woods, and eventually, I saw a hint that I was on the main path – a lone bench located near a big tree.

Running like this, not knowing where you are going, certainly sharpens the senses. There was no “zoning out” this time. I saw birds and rabbits, and even one tiny shrew running across the trail. Bugs kept flying into my head – not getting caught in my hair, just bouncing off my head like tiny ping pong balls. But being out in nature was gorgeous. I was deep in the woods, the river alongside me, and wildflowers all around. At one point my brain just went: “YES!!!”

It was so great, it made me wish I was a better runner – just so I could keep going. I’ve never felt that way before.

Part of me is tempted to grab Hermes and go hike as many of those trails as I can. There are certainly some advantages of knowing where you’re heading, and if I am going to hike in a dog friendly place, you bet I am taking my buddy along. On the other hand, I really liked the exploring part of the run – feeling like I was finding something new. I’ve already explored one part of the trail, so each time I go I could just go a little further and see what is over the next hill that way. We’ll see.

I’ll tell you this though, I am going to spend some more time finding all the trail parks in my area! Trail running makes me very happy.


Flickr Photo credits:

Meadow by Andy Arthur

Flowers by tjk


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