This morning I woke up dreading my long run. Earlier this week, I planned to do my long run with a local running group. The workout was hill repeats up and down Mt. Sanitas. One loop is 5K in distance with about 1200 feet of vertical. The day before I decided I would do 4 laps, which would be about a 12 mile run with roughly 4800 feet of vertical, and take me about 3 hours to complete.
As soon as I woke up and started thinking about this run, it immediately began ruining my mood. I knew it would be challenging, and that was okay with me. I love challenging runs. However, what I didn’t like was going into a run without the hope of adventure. This type of workout doesn’t give me any freedom to explore, which is one of the greatest gifts trail running provides. I love pulling out my trail map the night before, and asking: where shall I run tomorrow? I love coming to a trail junction, and asking: which way should I go today? This run took those questions away, along with any and all possibilities. That’s what I missed the most, while trudging up the mountain on my first loop.
By the time I began my second ascent, I was miserable. The lack of adventure was eating away at me. Normally, this type of run would not bother me so much. I do planned runs and workouts all the time during the week. But there was just something about making my long run so confining that irked me. So I decided to make a change. When I got to the top of the mountain, instead of going straight back down, I went left, then right, then left, then right. Each new turn brought me greater joy, and quenched my thirst for adventure. A few miles later, I found myself running down a familiar trail. Then I passed a side trail that I have passed many times before, and always wanted to take, but never had the time. Well today I have all the time in the world. I took that trail, which led me to a faint game trail that winded up the hill. I followed it to a ridge, noting different animal tracks and scat along its route. At the top I was awarded with scenic views of the surrounding peaks.
All of us have been in a situation that makes us unhappy, but most of us forget we have the power to change our situation. If you are unhappy where you live, then move. If your job makes you unhappy, then get a new one. Change is scary and often difficult, but life is too short to waste. So, the next time you are out on a run, and plan to turn right, turn left instead. Go off the beaten path, and see what happens…