It doesn’t matter how bad my day has been, how horrible I feel about life, or how angry I am at myself or someone else, when my feet hit the trail, my soul opens and lets it all go.
Within a half mile, all the tension melts from my muscles and the mountain air has cleared my head. Because of this wonderful ability of the trails, my running partners know me better than almost anyone in my life. My training partners laugh and say, “If you want to know Nik, run with her.” And it’s very true, I am most open and relaxed when my feet are moving over the dirt.
Running has always been my time to figure things out. It doesn’t matter how difficult the problem is or how hopeless I thought it was, if I run with it, a solution will present itself. There’s a lot of research that shows people are more creative during and immediately after exercise due to the higher oxygen levels and the release of stress. This extra creativity helps get a new perspective on issues and makes thinking outside the box easier.
When I was running alone, I would work out life problems, outline novels, and devise the theory of my next trial. Now that I run with other people, we bounce ideas off one another. We talk about our struggles and our triumphs. It’s been great to get other’s opinions, and it is interesting to see what possible solutions we can come up with as we dodge branches, hop between rocks, and splash through creeks.
It can be snowing and windy outside and still the trail works its magic. I can even run on roads with a similar experience, although not as profound. The only thing that seems to stifle it, is running indoors.
There’s nothing I can’t work out while running. Running teaches you to face challenging things rather than take the easy way out. If you always run flat routes at a constant pace, you’ll never get any better. You have to face the hills, rocks, and rivers.
And sometimes you’re going to trip and fall on your face.