Last Updated on September 27, 2019 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
Sometime this past year I found a group of kickass runners. I can’t remember exactly how I came across them, if I had to guess, Facebook would be the most likely culprit. A mutual love for trail running and good beer, combined with the fact that they are semi local (Georgia, just the next state over) caught my attention. The fact that their logo is a Yeti was an instant sell. In case I’ve never mentioned it on the blog before, I’m kind of obsessed with all things Yeti/Bigfoot/Sasquatch. Not so obsessed that I’m out in the woods calling and tracking said mythical creature(s), but enough that I find things such as sasquatch socks and the magical fur growing plastic yeti absolutely hilarious.
Anyway, the Yeti Trail Runners, in addition to putting on some pretty incredible events (so I’ve heard, I’ve yet to get to one) often put out some pretty amazing gear and goodies, with profits going to local charities. And recently, they offered a shirt that I had to have…so I bought it for myself (at an affordable $11) as an early birthday present.
Trail running ruined my life.
It’s true, it really did ruin my life. And if you don’t believe me, let us count the ways…
Before trail running, I got a lot done. I raised two babies. I took a full college coarse load. I blogged nearly every day. I trained when I was supposed to, rested when I wasn’t. Sure it got monotonous and sometimes even dreadful, but I had a finish line to cross. A PR to set. Training sessions to log and cross off my calendar. I HAD GOALS!
Because of trail running, I find myself unable to sit still. I’m constantly daydreaming of hitting the trails, for running out there NEVER feels like a chore. I want to run, all day, every day. I want to get lost deep in my thoughts, deep in the primal thrill of barreling down hills and pushing my limits back up them. I want to get lost in the woods. Well…maybe not literally. But close.
Regardless, this ants-in-my-pants-trail-running-syndrome has seriously put a damper on my productivity. And while out there? PR’s are the LAST thing on my mind. Instead it’s exploring, daydreaming, and plenty of shenanigans. It makes you feel like a kid again. An unproductive, carefree, giggly little kid.
Before trail running, my kids thought I was a cool mom. You want to play video games? Sure, have at it. Structured playdates? Why not. An afternoon at the bounce house or the always overcrowded local playground? That sounds like fun.
Because of trail running, I’m now evil and mean. The other kids get to spend their weekends on their iPads, but I make my kids – gasp – play in the woods. I make them wake up early on weekends to drive to a race so they can be surrounded by positive adults doing amazing things. I let them climb rocks and barrel down hills and do a ton of other dangerous things. Drop your granola bar on the ground? Quit sulking, there’s like a 10 second rule in the woods. My kids get dirty. They get scraped knees and cuts from thorny bushes. They explore, they play, they burn off all of that awesome kid energy in the great outdoors. And sometimes they don’t even take a bath until the next day. (The horror!!!)
Before trail running, I was quite content racing local 5K’s, or half and full marathons within a reasonable driving distance. It didn’t really matter where they were, as long as the medal was nice and I had a chance at setting a PR (read: a flat course).
Because of trail running, nothing short nor local is enough for me (no offense, Myrtle Beach). I suffer the agony of FOMO every time a link from UltraSignUp.com comes across one of my social media feeds. I dream of being able to do each and everyone of these ridiculous ultra marathons, even though sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) they truly suck, physically and emotionally.
And it’s not for the finishers status, not for the “bling” and certainly not for bragging rights. It’s more so to be able to spend hours and hours (and days) exploring new places, surrounded by like minded crazy people. To enter the darkest depths of our thoughts and souls, both good and bad, while experiencing painful physical and emotional suffering and incredible highs unlike anything else.
And of course, for the aid station snacks. A slice of cold pizza and a handful of potato chips 8 hours into a race is a far greater experience than having any medal placed around my neck.
Sadly, my body and bank account are not fans of this FOMO…thanks a lot, trail running.
Before trail running, I contemplated trying to achieve “50 marathons in 50 states”. Lofty and impressive goal, true, but more than doable with proper planning. I heard Wisconsin has a cheese shaped medal, that could be fun. Delaware? Yeah, why not, I’m not really sure what’s there, but lets go.
Because of trail running I’m now scrambling to get my passport (nearly 34 years old and I’ve never left the country, I suppose that’s pretty sad) BECAUSE I NEED TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND RUN ALL OF THE TRAILS. ALL OF THEM! Not to mention trying to figure what sort of career will both fund said adventures while simultaneously allowing me a TON of time and freedom to travel. I’m constantly watching videos (like these ones!) posted typically by big shoe or apparel companies, depicting some of the most GORGEOUS places on earth, typically with some svelte elite athlete dancing down the trails. Sorry to be crass, but these videos are like pornography to me. My heart starts racing, I feel short of breath, and the WANT and DESIRE is nearly unbearable. Literally, they take my breath away…it’s amazing to think of how HUGE the world is, how many amazing places there are to explore that look absolutely like NOTHING else I’ve ever seen before.
Let’s take a (long, I had a hard time choosing!) blog post intermission to check out these pictures from around the world of some of my badass friends:
Did that give you the sharp sting of wanderlust? Good, I’m not alone. Because…
Before trail running, I was content with running my cookie cutter neighborhood 10K loops, dutifully timed by my Garmin GPS. The occasional long run somewhere different would be a treat, but the GPS was always the boss. My scenic views included cars, matching single family homes, and the occasional golden retriever.
Because of trail running, I now have an insatiable case of wanderlust, that can only be cured by constantly exploring new parks, places, and trails. Pace per mile? Who cares when you have views like these!
Because of trail running, I’ve hit incredible highs and painful lows, and realized I’m capable of so much more than I ever imagined.
Because of trail running I’ve met incredible people and experienced fantastic events.
Because of trail running, I’ve realized that despite all of the “ugly” in the world, there is so very much beauty.
Because of trail running, I’ve learned to truly appreciate how amazing the world is, and how little I need material “things“.
Because of trail running, I can no longer settle for the mundane, for monotony, for an adventureless life.
Trail running has ruined any possibility of a quiet, predictable, carefully planned adulthood.
To quote John Muir: “The mountains are calling, and I must go”…thanks for
nothing everything, trail running.
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.
Wow I absolutely loved this and now I am going to leave the roads and go to the trails I think your wonderlust is catchy …. Just an awesome blog ‼️
Thank you Darlene!!
I agree. I don’t go on trails too much and too be honest I’m getting more and more bored of road running because that’s all I’ve really done lately is just road running. Thank you Heather for inspiring us to find trails to explore and take our running and imaginations to new heights!
Also, Thank you Heather for your honesty and love of exploring!
Hi .. I am from Singapore. I got hooked with trail run since 2017 . I am now 50yrs old recently had day surgery on my left knee due to damage cartilage n recently recently me right patella had a hairline crack cause i fell during one of the runs in Malaysia. But I am still thinking abt trail run ! I don’t know whynext run Jeju trail run at Korea in October!
Thank you. Now take me somewhere on a new adventure. 😛
I’m so jealous of you, wow! I’ve been running for a year or so, and even though I prefer trails, I’ve been sticking to roads out of necessity – I don’t have transportation, so my runs’ starting points are always my front door. There’s a bit of forest two miles from here, so I can do my long runs there, but I can’t wait to be able to afford a car so I can go a bit further away! I live in Finland, so there’s plenty of gorgeous nature around once you get out of the city.
I bet Finland is GORGEOUS! And I feel your pain, not having a car can be so frustrating and limiting! But head to the forest when you can. Just being among the trees is wonderful for your soul! Run happy 🙂
Clearly you need to come back to California! Did you know there is a trail series by Sasquatch Racing? Yes, SASQUATCH! In fact, the Sasquatch Scramble–the signature race–is April 17th. Plenty of time left to grab a plane ticket…
**off to google the sasquatch scramble*** Thanks for letting me know !
I love this post-it’s inspiring me to get into trail running more. Although with grad school I can’t really afford to have no more time and travel more , haha!
I hear you. We have one little trail here in Myrtle, and I haven’t gotten a chance to travel in a while. But I just pretend I’m in the middle of some huge, secluded forest and make it work, haha. ANY trail is better than not trail!
I think you found your tribe. Welcome!
I agree 🙂 Thank you!!
Yes yes yes and so yes! Love this!
Reading this makes me really wish I did not live in the desert… but I’ve just signed up for a half marathon which is run on gravel – sort of the closest to trail running that we get out here 😉
Ohhh but I can only imagine the great desert running! I have a friend who visits Dubai often, and he was telling me all about the marathon there. I would love to check it out one day!
Mel from Melbourne
Thanks for an inspiring read, love those hills! For your sasquatch addiction, check out the Mysterious Universe podcast, so much fun 🙂
Hey Mel! I will check it out, thanks for letting me know! 🙂
So nice you wrote! I can recognized all the words! That is exactly what I feel! Come to Sweden and I will show where the trails that changed my life 🙂 Hugs!
I would LOVE to run in Sweden one day! Thanks for the comment Coyntha!! 🙂
Look into the Dances With Dirt series. Hopes to see you on the trails and possibly a hash (Hash House Harriers)
I have heard of the Dances with Dirt series, but I’ll have to look more closely into it. Thanks for the comment David. ON ON!
Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
Oh I love this! Those are all great photos and it looks like you have so much fun. You almost convinced me that I need to trail run!
Smitha @ Running with SD Mom
Awesome awesome post! And yes it does leave me itchy to go run on dirt!
I feel your “pain”, as a trail runner, physically healthy, financially ruined, lol
It’s a tough life indeed, but someone has to do it, right? 😉
What a fun read. I have been to some of those places!
Come to South Africa! Here in Cape Town (and the greater Western Cape Province) we have more UNBELIEVABLE trails than a person can run in a lifetime. These links are to an epic one I did last year called Whale of Trail (and yes, there were whales, with their calves, right in the bay!)
Lisa, that race looks amazing! Thank you for sharing the videos. Added to my (painfully long) bucket list!
Wow great job and GREAT photos…I felt like I was there. I would love to do a trail run one day. I live in Colorado so I’m sure there are plenty of opportunities.
Pikes Peak is calling you!
There is no going back….. There is a legend in Northern Arizona of a creature living in the deep woods along the Mogollon Rim outside the small town of Pine. Stories of the creature harken back to native American legends to early recountings of pioneers and early settlers. Sightings are reported to this day… In some areas of the world he may be called a Yeti, Big Foot, Abdominal Snowman but in these parts he is simply known as the Mogollon Monster.
A trail race is run every year in his honor. A 100 miles of rugged beauty, grueling and punishing, one of the last places on earth a Yeti might live undisturbed by the industry of humankind. Only the most daring, tough and determined runners can survive the course and in doing so my be counted among the select few to catch a glimpse this magnificent creature.
Do you hear the mountains, they are calling, Mogollon Monster…. http://www.mogollonmonster100.com/
You have just contributed to the FOMO. Thanks a lot. (just kidding!) But now I’m engulfed in the website…maybe 2017… 🙂
I live in AZ and have never heard of this run….will check it out! Thanks!
Janelle @ Run With No Regrets
I love your trail running photos! I would love to see the country (and the world) while on a running trail…whenever I’m running on the trails I feel so alive! I’m so sorry to see how much trail running has ruined your life, LOL!
Love this! No concrete for me anymore….bring on the trails.
Okay! I’m hooked! What a great post! I’ve been on the edge about attempting an event like this. I’ve also an aid mountain bicyclist but was looking for something new. Great Blog!
Jen Rawson, RD (@PrettyLilGrub)
What an inspiring post. You may have convinced me to give a trail race a try.
Pure awesome. I find myself running trails more and more. Here’s to adventure!
Kathryn @ Dancing to Running
I love this post! Running definitely changes our lives in many more ways that any of us imagined it would when we first started, whether it was to loose weight, train for a race, or just live a healthier life.
LOL! I fee you! I’m always dreaming of a trail to explore!
Loved this! You sum it up so very well.
Get a yeti tattoo and you get free entry to yeti events. So I’m told. I’d confirm that before you get one (if you haven’t already).
Nicole @ Fitful Focus
haha ! YES! I love this so much! And all of your pictures are so beautiful! I wish there were more trail options in NYC!
This is so awesome! I’m kind of new to trail running, and don’t have tons of experience (because my part of Florida is pancake flat, and more beachy than woodsy), but I can totally see how the lure of the trails can “ruin” it all! All those gorgeous photos make me want to go out west and try my feet at something new!
Getting your passport will lead to so many great adventures for you! This country is great, but world travel is amazing!
This spring I’m planning to get my first pair of trail running shoes! I’m excited because my husband is really interested in orienteering and I think it will be a great family activity out there on the trails!
You’ve convinced me that I need to start off on that NorthFace Endurance challenge in Kettle Moraine Wis. This pavement pounder has to ease into the trail thing…
I miss trail running. Maybe I will get back to it when I retire….being 62 my victories and long distance runs are probably behind me, but I loved it when I was out there. Pikes Peak, Catalina Island Marathon (2 times), Grand Canyon (2 singles and one double), and all the peaks in and around Arizona! This was back in the early 80s when we didn’t have all the gear and shoes but we ma nagged to survive anyway! Keep finding adventure
MANAGED….damn auto correct!
YES!!! Just yes!!! And totally agree with the pr0n line. 100%
I love the title of this post! But wow, reading it – so inspirational. I’m longing to hit the trails now!
The LA mountains comment cracked me up. I was born and raised here and it wasn’t until about 2-3 years ago that I really started to explore them. Now I’m in the Santa Monica Mountains every single weekend!
In 2012 I flew to Anaheim for a Disney race. When we were descending, I was looking around going “IS THIS CALIFORNIA???” the mountains totally threw me for a loop! Growing up on the East Coast, I always associated California with oceans and grape vineyards, haha!
I have a friend that moved here from Boston and when i took her trail running she was in complete shock. She said: I didn’t know there was this much wilderness in LA!
Love this! I haven’t gotten into actual trail running yet, but my husband and I hike a ton and it’s definitely made us want to start trail running. I don’t even run on the roads anymore, but only on paved/gravel flat trails along the rivers and lakes of the Eastside of Seattle. Even once you start on the flattest of trails you can’t go back to the roads!
Nailed it! 100% how I feel, and I try to be as much of a “bad influence” on my road running friends as I can. And that aid station at the turnaround at 7 Sisters was like Shangri-La…can’t wait to see it again!
Love it!! Great post!
Thank you Steve!
Kate @ SoCal Runner Gal
Such a great read! I had to share with my friend who recently fell madly and deeply in love with the trails.
Well said, you have captured some of the things I’ve tried to say in the past. Thank you for your experiences.
You are my spirit animal! I feel EXACTLY the same way about trail running.
Nicely written — trails have been my (our) companions for many years — always good to see the conversion process continues. Run gently out there.
I hope I meet you some day, Darlene!
Your enthusiasm is infectious!
And I sympathize with Geoff! 🙂
I hope to meet you some day, Heather! 🙂
I love this! Trail running has transformed me from unhealthy (ie too concerned with low weight), constantly injured, and anxious about my training to a much happier and healthier person! Can’t imagine going back to those boring suburbia routes 😉
A transition that just happened gradually and unknowingly:) cant almost relate to every word written here……well summed up:) Happy feet for many more trails ahead…
Jill Conyers (@jillconyers)
Trails have a way of doing all that you said and more.
Heather I don’t know how I missed this. Love love it! It’s all so true.
I just felt like cryinh while reading this, btw just lost my glasses on a ultra trail marathon this weekend and I am at the doctor waiting to get a new prescription.
This just describle my life. My parents keep tellibg me wheorI will furnish my apartment or make sone effort to spend a weekend with them without bringing my trail shoes or just pass by because I am on my way to meet the running fellas for a weekend in the woods.
Non trail friends complain that trail running had the same effect in my life as crack! I only onky think about that and i would sell any personal belongs if I really need money to pay a race fee.
I am constantly asking for days off at work because i need to travel to some race in a place in the middle of nowhere, and my working clothes are usually too olf because i can care less about it but my running gear.
Well… I could keep going… i need to share the article in my social media and l guess i know more people which life was also ruined by trail ruinning as well.
Thanks for righting.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Awesome blog! So glad I stumbled upon this 🙂
I feel like I could have written the exact post.
Andrea Frank Rutsky
Love. It. All. Perfectly said!!!
And how is your life ruined again?
Love this! I have been getting into trail running more and more and loving it! Though I am currently between the “this is so fun just like when I was a kid” stage and “my pace is so much slower on trails” stage – I think I will always love road running as I am too competitive with myself not to road race. But trails bring on new ways to be competitive like how technical of a trail can I handle or how much can I adventure on my own without being afraid or getting lost and course increasing mileage on trails is a whole new accomplishment in itself! It’s hard to try and find a balance between wanting to trail run on weekends but also racing on weekends (and not get hurt on the trails) then there’s things like laundry and the kids and juggling the husbands running schedule to. If you find a career that will both fund and allow time off running trails internationally, please let the rest of us know! ha!
Kelli Pence McHugh
I absolutely love this! I love that you met a bunch of crazy like-minded people who helped bring you out of your comfort zone into something new and exciting. I’ve only recently started trail running (and running in general), running my first Ragnar Trail Relay last weekend and I am HOOKED. I want more, can’t wait for more!!
I truly enjoyed this post 🙂 in fact, I really like all the ones I’ve read to far! Thanks for sharing so much, it does make me feel like I am not alone daydreaming of trails.