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  • Derek

Mother Nature's lessons from the Trail

Yep! Yet another trail running post.

I can't help it. I love that I've rekindled my love for the trails, by finding somewhere that's quiet, awesome and a nice challenge. It's been even better now compared to in the past, because I'm coming at it from a whole different perspective (physically, mentally and the point in my life) Running the trails, or hiking the trails always give me a similar feel during and after, and I always seem to leave the woods with something learned. I also always feel the excitement when I plan to go back each time. That's how you know it's right for you. When you WANT to do it! My walk to the trail entrance is exactly 1.23km, and yet I just want to snap my fingers and be in there!

You don't have to be a "trail runner" to get something out of this post, so please keep reading.

Stay with me.

I hope that I can share the beauty of Mother Nature and her teachings with you, to inspire more people to get outdoors and be active in whatever way they enjoy. It's so healthy for us AND it teaches us more than we realize sometimes.

I think one of the biggest impacts for me on the trails, is the clear mind and approach to my "trail adventures". I'll remind you...

- I don't go into the woods with a "plan" other than just GO

- I don't worry about speed or time (although I do track distance and total time sometimes for curiousity sake, and mapping trails)

- I explore (check out new trails, new directions etc)

- If I have my phone with me and see something cool, I may stop to take a picture. If (like the past couple times) there's a big branch or even small tree down across the path, I'll stop to move it off the path so mountain bikers and other folks don't have to worry about it)

I just enjoy the movement, peacefulness and my surroundings. Simple as that.

Yesterday I picked up some new trail running shoes, so I was even more anxious to get into the woods. I think this picture (below) says it all. This is a shot coming into the trail. As if Mother Nature herself was welcoming me with her gentle glow of sunshine saying "enjoy".

That's pretty cool!

I explored some new trails yesterday and did a loop around the big hill. It was awesome. The weather was absolutely fantastic, it was so peaceful (I only passed a couple walking on the trail as I was into my final 1km or so) and my new trail shoes were feeling good.

Here's what Mother Nature decided to remind me of and teach me during my trail adventure...

Relax and enjoy. I had one of those runs, despite being very anxious to go, where my legs just felt heavy at first. Probably the first 5min or so into the run. Following that, the legs felt better but I just felt (a tad) tense. It's hard to explain in a way. As I moved onto the "unexplored" trails for me, that tension I believe came more from not quite knowing where the next turn was, when I'd be down the hill etc... It was shortly after passing the couple who were hiking (so within my last 1km of my run) where I felt that tension melt away. I could feel the flow in my movement. It felt like I could go for another loop around. That's the feeling you want to achieve and maximize during your hikes, trail runs etc... Ease into the movement and let it flow naturally. Don't force anything.

Slow down. I was coming down a hilly section of the trail in the second half of my run, and hit a small rock/root a little awkwardly (nothing bad, but you could just feel the foot fall wasn't quite as "normal"). It didn't stop me or hurt me at all, but it instantly triggered a "slow down" and "relax" thought in my head. Thanks for the reminder Mother Nature.

Mindfulness. I mentioned in my previous post that you have to be mindful on the trails. With the leaves falling this time of year, the trail has sections that are completely covered in the fall colours. As you stride through the leaves, you hear the rustle beneath your feet, you see the colours of the leaves all around you... You simply, take it all in. In addition, you have to be mindful of where you're stepping and where you are since roots, rocks etc can be buried underneath the blanket of leaves in some sections. It's nature's way of keeping you in the NOW.

Movement creates positive energy. Coming out of the trails after a nice run, you're tired but feel fantastic at the same time. You have a different kind of energy flowing all throughout your body. For me, running in general gives me a daily energy boost that is hard to explain. I feel better overall, and I find my focus is heightened throughout the days. When I run on the trails, the peacefulness and the nature that surrounds me only exentuates that energy flow. Our bodies were designed to move, and when we do our bodies feel better and work more efficiently (mentally and physically).

I love learning and I love when things just "click". Those "ah-ha" moments and life lessons are always so cool when they present themselves.

*As a funny side note:

My new trail running shoes I bought are the Merrell Trail Glove 5's. I was excited to have not only a new pair of trail runners but also to have found a minimalist style as well (I like feeling the ground under me). I'm on the back half of my loop yesterday, and I was coming down a bit of declined section that was covered with leaves pretty good. As I get to the bottom of this little hill, about 2-3 feet in front of me I see a giant mud puddle. Like the mushy, messy, squishy type mud. With my momentum and only seeing it a few feet ahead, my attempts to slow down and adjust my path was unsuccessful. SQUISH! I sink into the mud up to my ankles as the water rushes into my shoes. There go the shiny new shoes! The bonus was, these shoes disperse the water really well!!

I shared this story with my trail running client (she's an avid trail runner), and her comment was;

"It's always best to get new trail shoes muddy during the inaugural run. They look better muddy". :)

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