Live Your Film

Ever Hit the Trails? You SHOULD and Here’s Why.

by Maria Harper

Don't let Maria's post-face-plant selfie scare you. She's hooked on trail running.

Don’t let Maria’s post-face-plant selfie scare you. She’s hooked on trail running.

If you’ve never run on trails before, I want to convince you that you SHOULD. My sister-in-law Tess introduced me to trail running. I was jog/walking up to three miles and getting bored going around my very flat neighborhood, completely unmotivated to go any farther.

And as a beginning runner, I had no idea where else to run. Tess took me out to Fort Harrison State Park to run on one of the trails there. We drove separately. (Tess wanted to be out for about an hour and a half. I thought I could do about 35 minutes.)

We started out on the Lawrence Creek Trail. I led so I could go my own pace, and Tess was nice enough to follow me to direct me where to go. About 20 minutes into the trail, I had to stop for a few seconds and catch my breath. The trail’s rocks and tree roots had me stumbling over everything. After a few minutes, we continued.

I was warmed up by then and getting into a rhythm, when all of a sudden, I heard a loud rustling of the leaves and something scurry underneath the brush. I was so startled, I yelped. Maybe even jumped a little. Tess, behind me, called out, “Everything ok?” I sheepishly turned around and muttered something about a squirrel. Imagine if I actually ran into a really big animal on the trail! At least I know I will never run into a bear in Indiana. (Fun park fact from my friendly park ranger.)

I had to stop more than once, just for a minute here and there, but when all was said and done, I had run for 50 minutes! Time had flown by—both because of the companionship of another person (not the squirrels) and also because of the change of scenery.

After that run, I felt confident enough go out on the trails by myself. I was still skittish at first. Once I was concentrating so hard on not stumbling that I almost ran into another runner coming from the opposite direction—and yelped a little and jumped too. I’ve face-planted more than once. I stumble quite often. Obviously, I’ve got some core and flexor strengthening to do. And I’m still waiting for the day a walnut falls and hits me right on the head. I know I sound a little paranoid, but have you ever heard one of those things fall from 30 feet above onto cement? Not anything I want to experience, but I’m willing to take that risk.

I have  found that trail running is my go-to fitness routine, relaxation technique, self esteem builder and happy pill all in one. There’s nothing like being in the middle of a run and all of a sudden seeing a huge buck look at you, and then gracefully disappear in the woods. In the winter, I love hearing the snow crunch under my feet and seeing the trees laden with ice and snow. It’s almost spiritual—I feel like I’m one with the world.

And even when I feel like a lumbering baby elephant on the trail, I know I ‘m still a badass. I’m out there doing it. And you can too.

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