A Road Runner Takes to Trail Running

By Pamela Harris, who wrote about training for her first marathon

It probably sounds counterintuitive because I work out six days a week, but I consider myself a fundamentally lazy athlete. If I can’t access a workout directly outside my door--or inside my door for trainer rides--it’s probably not going to happen.

I’d like to attribute it to a busy lifestyle that includes working full-time from home and parenting in a pandemic, but I know myself better than to falsely attribute my location inertia to efficiency.

I live in an urban neighborhood, and the road is right outside my door. With the exception of some unpaved paths in parks that cover less ground than a city block, I don’t have any trails within easy weekday distance of said door. And so, despite drooling over social media images of fellow BAMRs taking to the trails, I’ve always stuck to the road--until our recent family vacation at Hard Labor Creek State Park.

It just so happened that there are two mile-long hiking trails adjacent to the miniature golf course near our cottage. While my family hit some balls around the empty greens, I took to the trails.

Oh. My. Gosh. Trails, y’all. TRAILS. I stepped into the canopy and the rest of the world literally disappeared. It was just me, the trees, the wildlife, and all those lovely roots and trees dotting the winding path.

Yes, the views were breathtaking, and I felt solitary enough to cop a squat off the trail, but it was the uneven, injury-inviting ground that earned my undying love.

I adore running on the roads, especially on the downhills, when I let go and let gravity, easily hitting speeds impossible otherwise. That comparison, though, is always in the back of my mind. On the roads, I run on autopilot, listening to podcasts, music, or my own mind.

I have no idea how technical those little trails I ran are, but to a road runner, they felt like a 12 out of 10. I channeled my inner mountain goat: leaping, dodging, weaving, and thanking all that is holy for the work I’ve done strengthening my stabilizers. I couldn’t take my mind off goat mode without risking injury.

A mountain goat does not worry about her pace, or the global pandemic. A goat doesn’t fret about how she can possibly handle virtual schooling of her first-grader, or the uninvited preschooler likely popping in.

No, a mountain goat just runs.

Trails: Have you tried them? If so, are you a mountain goat at heart?

3 responses to “A Road Runner Takes to Trail Running

  1. I discovered trails last year, but very technical ones. I didn’t respect the difficulty and the needed change in my running form. After a couple of months I broke my ankle and hobbled out of the woods a mile. It was a long summer after that! (It happened on Father’s Day.) I am back in the woods, because the lure of the trail is too much to ignore, of course much more cautious and respectful. At least I learned something? Trails are very different, and that’s such a good thing!

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