I'd like to introduce you to one of my loves—trail running!
Growing up in West Virginia, running around in the woods was less a hobby unto itself and more of a means to get to our secret hideouts as kids. In middle and early high school, I tried my very best to like running, but it turns out, I hated it. More than that I was terrible at it. Everyone could run circles around me. Disheartened and embarrassed, I quit track at the end of my freshman year and didn't miss it.
Fast forward to post college. Being a poor just-out-of-college adult, I found a great deal on a tiny place to live while I worked multiple jobs at a time to pay towards my career goal of becoming a pilot. Money was tight, I couldn't afford a gym, so my best option was to go down to a nearby track to get some cardio in. I still hated running and was still terrible at it, but I found one redeeming thing at that track—the stadium stairs. I would "bribe" myself that if I ran a full mile, I could then run the stadium stairs to my heart's content. Is that weird? I always felt it was, but it worked for me. As Feb and March rolled around, track practices began and more and more people would be at the track every day. By the necessity of keeping my peaceful running time more solitary, I moved my spot of choice to a local outdoor walking path. As temperatures increased in April, that path also became more crowded, so I took to the trails.
What is funny to me is that running trails still wasn't a thing in my mind. When I took to the trails, I stopped running and went back to walking; however, that didn't last long as I found I would want to cover more and more ground each time I went out so I could see what was around the next bend and over the next hill. When I went in search of shoes for running on trails, that was my first indication that I wasn't alone in my newfound love—trail running shoes were a thing you could buy! Imagine my excitement!
Now years later, I find the women's trail and ultra running community to be a wonderful boost to my enjoyment. Their stories of successes and failures and that type of leadership seen in some of the top female competitors that seeks to help others reach their own best performance is inspiring, and it filters down through the ranks. Throughout my own days on the trails, I've faced many setbacks, injuries, and some epic falls! This sport has taught me how to listen to my body's cues and occasionally how to ignore them at my own peril. My problem solving and creativity seem to flow during the easy sections, and during the technical sections where my concentration is focused on only my next two steps, I manage to escape all of the rest of reality that is bearing down on me in life. For those moments, all that exists and matters is the next two steps.
I love trail running and wish I had discovered it earlier in my life, but I'm thankful that I discovered it when I did. To this day, I have run trails in Puerto Rico, St Croix, Guam, and all throughout the Appalachian Mountains. I still hate running anything that isn't a trail; although, I do it to improve my trail pace, which is still terrible! Hah! But it keeps me motivated like no other activity can.
Do you have a favorite activity that motivates you to always do better? What is it? How did you get into it? What is it that you feel draws you to this activity?