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Sweet, sweet elation

by Emily Gindle » on Sep 30, 2010 0

I love trail running. It’s not like street running, where your feet are hitting the same plane, you’re passing the same houses, listening to the same music on your ipod. Running like that has its goals: you can speed train, for one, and you can squeeze that kind of running in anytime. There’s definitely something satisfying about stepping out your front door and running really far from your house and then running back to it; something satisfying in not using a car or a bike to get yourself somewhere. But I still have trouble getting over the drone in my head of repetitive thoughts, commercial jingles, pieces of songs I don’t know the rest of. I plug in my earphones and I’m tired of all my music.

But trail running is completely different. Music is distracting when you’re trying to dodge rocks. None of those inane thoughts can make their way in when you’re planning your footfalls between downed trees. Your focus gets narrowed to the present moment and the situation at hand: hurtling through stands of cactus, jumping over streams. You notice everything–the flash of orange poppies, the tips of deer antlers coming up from the wash–because every part of you is trying to figure out how to move in this environment.

I love that in Fivefingers my breathing is louder than my feet. And I love being able to feel where I am with every step. When I lived in the Midwest, being in nature was always a tactile experience. I was always rubbing the moss on boulders, feeling the texture of bark on trees, running leaves through my fingers. The desert is a little less friendly to this kind of exploration. If you want to pet the cactus, you have to do it delicately. I love that I’ve found a new way to feel my way around.

I’ve dropped my regimen since going more on the trail in Fivefingers. I used to clock my runs to compare my times and distances; I rarely let myself stop to catch a breath. Now the competition of running doesn’t matter to me. I stopped caring about the numbers the first time it took me twenty minutes to run one mile of trail. And I listen more. If a crazy rocky uphill is too hard, I walk it. If I’m out of breath too quickly, I wait. Because I know that if I give my body time to sync up, it will be amazing. There’s nothing more rewarding than cruising through a piece of trail, when you feel fast and your feet find their way even though you don’t know what’s coming next. There’s nothing more rewarding than feeling that elated exhaustion while at the same time drinking in a beautiful view.

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