Yesterday was National Donut Day and today is National Trails Day. Since I didn’t take advantage of a day that encourages indulgence in a sweet, gooey treat, I couldn’t let a day that promotes trails slip by without adding a little more dirt to my running shoes.
I’m fortunate to live close to many trails; some just in my backyard, such as Forest Park, while getting to other trails require a little more commitment, but the reward can be grand. In about an hour’s drive from Portland, I can be running on the Pacific Crest Trail or any number of beautiful trails in the Columbia Gorge region.
I’ve had a “no pavement” rule ever since a bad case of Achilles Tendonitis sidelined me for many months in 2006. I find that trails are more forgiving and challenging than pavement and take me to some pretty amazing places—not to mention the friendships I’ve made in the trail running community.
During my run on Ski Bowl today, I reflected on what I love about trails and what keeps me coming back for more. Here are my top five reasons why I continue flirting with dirt:
1) Connection to Nature: I’ve seen snakes, coyotes, frogs, and deer, and birds have serenaded me and kept me going on many long runs. While trees may tower above me and I can rarely name a flower or plant I’m running past, I always feel at home and welcome.
2) Friendly Foes: Instead of cars and bicyclists, rocks, roots, and fallen trees are my typical foes. Trail running may require a little more focus, but it keeps me centered and energized.
3) No Two Trails are the Same: Every trail has its own terrain, challenges and views. I love that I’m always rewarded with fresh views around every corner, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. And there’s always that unexpected river crossing or hill waiting for me.
4) Happy Hamstrings: Running on trails is easier on the body, putting less wear and tear on my muscles and joints. Since sticking to trails, I’m rarely injured and I find my recovery time between runs has decreased.
5) Mud: The muddier the better. It’s hard to top a good, muddy trail run. Enough said.
I hope that you were able to get outside today and enjoy National Trails Day—and if so, please share what made it special.