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.