After a busy day taking care of my two daughters, doing laundry, cleaning the house, and doing yard work, when I unexpectedly had a couple of hours to myself late this afternoon, I couldn’t get to the trails fast enough to go for a run. It was one of those picture perfect Kentucky fall days with clear blue skies that provided a brilliant backdrop for the sun that softly lit the trails, and returning to the trails felt like a homecoming of sorts. Trail running is therapeutic and even spiritual for me, and in the past two and half years, I have found peace, solace, and comfort during some of the most turbulent of times. I also have discovered some lessons along the miles of those sacred trails and in the mixture of the mud, sweat, and tears. Here are some of the lessons that I took away from today’s great trail run:
- You don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to be prepared.
I was so excited to go trail running that I rushed at record speeds to get out of the house and into the car to drive to the park. As I got into my car, I realized that I forgot a towel to wipe off the dirt and sweat after my run, so, I had to run back into the house to grab one. About two blocks from the house, I realized that I had left my iPod on the kitchen counter, so, back home I went. Before heading out the door a third time, I went through my trail running checklist and made sure that I had everything I needed this time and was relieved that I finally did. It was a good reminder not to let my enthusiasm sabotage the process by getting ahead of myself and causing unnecessary delays.
- Sometimes, you have a rough start, but the beginning is not the end.
As excited as I was to trail run, since it had been over a month since I last hit the trails, my mind, heart, lungs, and legs went four different directions when I first started running, which left me feeling frustrated and feeling out of shape. I wanted to run with wild abandon again, but the rough start made me want to abandon the run altogether. Instead of quitting, I kept going, and after the first half-mile, my body and mind began to work in unison, and I settled in for an awesome run.
- When you stumble, steady yourself, then keep going.
At the beginning of my run, when I started up a steep incline that was dotted with rocks and exposed tree roots covered with leaves, I stumbled and nearly fell, but I found my footing and kept running. As I continued on my run, I thought of how many times I stumble off the trails and instead of regrouping, I allow that misstep to stop me in my tracks. It doesn’t matter if you stumble, as it matters more how you recover.
- Stay present.
I admittedly have difficulty staying present, as my mind tends to take trips down memory lane, usually dwelling on the people and events that I need to forget, or looking to the future and worrying about things that may never come to pass. When I trail run, I have learned the importance of staying focused on what is immediately before me, not what is behind me or far off in the distance, lest I fall and hurt myself. I thought of how often I hurt myself, and sometimes others, when I stay stuck in the past or worry about the future, and today’s trail run reminded me that staying present can make all the difference in the world between having a great run or a disastrous run. In life on and off of the trails, I choose greatness.
- Finish strong.
My running mentor and fellow hillbilly, George, taught me to finish every run strong. So, I always make it a point to sprint to the finish, no matter how tired I may be. Being able to do so leaves me feeling strong and proud, and as I ran hard to stand still, I thought of the goals and dreams that I am working toward, some of which seem to have stalled. I recognized that sometimes the steps required to reach the end are slow, tedious, and even messy, but you still can finish strong, and so I will.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story