I recently got some new running shoes, which is one of the most exciting purchases a runner can make. Of course, I had to stick with my tried and true Asics, as this brand has kept me strong for years. I upped the ante for plantar fasciitis and bought the Nimbus instead of the Cumulus for more support, and so far I have liked them! I have also started running trails a lot more regularly with the spring weather, and have found some really good spots close to my apartment.
Trail running is the most relaxing form of exercise for me because it forces focus. There is no room to “zone out” the way I do when I run on the roads; in fact, every moment I am concentrating on where to place my feet and which way the trail is winding. During a less demanding workout, there is empty space for my brain to wander, worry, and find other things to think about besides the task at hand. One of the things I value exercise for is the ability to give me 30-60 minutes of the day where I only have one job: finish the run. Stretch the calf muscle. Salute the sun. You get the idea. Basically, a trail reminds me there is only one way to go: forward. That is why I enjoy it — that, and the sensation of being alone.
I grew up believing to run alone in the woods was basically suicide — kidnapping or death by strange psychopathic hunter was my sure fate. It is because my mother is a protective woman, and because I am generally an anxious person. I also blame crime television shows — I can’t even count how many opening scenes feature a young woman with headphones in her ears, running alone on a trail where she will soon be captured and cut into dozens of small pieces.
But it occurred to me in the last few months that I explored the city of Barcelona by myself as a twenty-year old American white girl. I was in situations likely far more dangerous than trail running in central New England state forests. I realized that although my parents have some irrational fears, they are mostly logical — and taught me to follow blazes. Run in daylight. Switch up routines. Bring a granola bar. Backtrack if you have to. Follow the water. Trust your gut.
That is why recently, I have forgotten about my wish for a dog to protect me while trail running, and also stopped going with my boyfriend (who is somewhat of a fair weather runner, anyway).
I run alone. I like it that way.