Just a runner on the trail

On the 4th, I went on a 5-mile run on my favorite trail in the woods along the Des Plaines River. I haven’t been on it in months mostly due to the weather here in Cook County. 2013 has been such a rainy year thus far and the Des Plaines river has been higher than normal almost consistently for the past few months. The trail that I run on curls along the river and is normally only 6″ higher than the river at its highest point when it’s not rainy. Obviously, the trail is very easily flooded after just one rain storm….much less a few storms in a few days sporadically for a few months.

keep calm and run happy

Before going on my run, I decided that I needed to run for fun just to remember what it felt like. I didn’t want to think about training, the marathon, my time or my pace. I just wanted to have fun and run the trails again like I used to. I haven’t gone running purely for fun (i.e. without thinking about training/if I’m on target) in I don’t even know how long.


The trail I ran yesterday, I’ve run hundreds of times in the past 13 years and I know it like the back of my hand. Although, running the trail yesterday after such a long hiatus was almost like running it for the very first time. It was new and exciting and I was really happy to jump the same logs and take the same turns that I was so familiar with.

Because we’ve gotten a lot of rain recently, the river just recently receded….and only a bit. The trail was de-flooded but it was still extremely muddy. Non-the-less, I decided to run it anyway. For the first two miles, I was pretty much just skidding and sliding. Those two miles took me a bit longer than they normally would have taken me to run…it was about as easy and graceful as trying run on ice while staying vertical.

Needless to say, I was gloriously muddy by the end of my run.

By the beginning of the third mile, I finally got to higher ground where the trail was dry. I ran back and forth on the short stretch of higher ground before heading out onto the road to run the last mile back to my car.

I realized that my mentality is completely different when I’m running the trails versus when I’m running on the road. Running on the trail, I was really in my present, much more so than I usually am when running. I paid more attention and drank in the beauty of my surroundings. I also noticed that my mind was more relaxed. I just let my mind wander and enjoyed every second of it. Running the trails is really meditative for me.

In past posts, I’ve discussed what I normally think about when I run….specifically, what I think about when I’mrunning on the roads. I normally think about my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon and what I could be doing to better my training. Am I going fast enough? Am I getting enough mileage in? Am I allowing myself to recover enough after each run? Am I fueling properly?

It’s just as important to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind as it is to step back every so often and look at things in perspective. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the overarching goal, that you could miss noticing a smaller detail that’s just as important.

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