Tag Archives: Mental Health

Tanglewood Trail Not So Much Run

Since I began training for my 50K in the beginning of January I have yet to run any trails. Trail running is my favorite kind of running and my training is to prepare me for a trail marathon and then a 50K, so I have really been itching to get on the trails. So far timing or weather or any other of life’s many variables have conspired to keep me from trails.

Going into this week 6 of the training plan long run I really wanted to get out on a trail to run. The weather had not really cooperated with multiple days of snow into mid week. But I really wanted to run trails. Then life circumstances really started hitting home and I really just felt like I needed to get out into nature. Nature is where I can find my peace and maybe just escape from life for a while. It is what I needed. So I doubled down on my desire to hit the trails today.


Normally on a long run in the winter I would were some running tights, but aparently life prevented me from having any of those clean. I have a pair of windpants that I can run in that have a light mesh lining to them and I figured would be perfect for the temperature and at least keep me warm. So I geared up and went out to my favorite local trail spot at Trnaglewood Nature Center.

My assumption was that Tanglewood is a pretty popular outdoor destination locally. I assumed that people would have been on the trail over the past few days so that the snow would be a little packed down and more runnable. And that is where it started to bite me in that ass. I always think I have learned my lesson about assuming. You know the saying when you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME. Well I sure began to feel like an ass once I began running.


There had been almost no one on the trails. Miscalculation number 1. Especially not on the trails I wanted to be on. I was pushing through fresh 6+ inch snow with every step. I was wearing my Altra Lone Peak 3.0’s that I love but they were no help in that level of snow. There was no traction to be had. The snow was so deep every step was over my ankles. Every step pushed snow up into my open pant legs of the wind pants. Miscalculation number two. Thank goodness I did have the good sense to where nice warm and tall Smartwool winter socks. Also since the snow was pushing up into my pants and the pants had a mesh liner the snow was powdery enough at first to just pass through the mesh liner. Once the snow got between the mesh liner and the outer layer of the pants it compressed and did not come back out through the mesh. I stopped to try to get it out but that was not happening. The snow just built up inside the bottom of the pant legs. Miscalculation number three. By the end of the run it was like trying to run in the snow with ankle weights on.

I am glad I went out with the intent of taking some photos and getting some time lapse footage or I may have given up sooner. Having something else to focus on other than the inability to run helped me to want to stay out there longer. And I did get some decent footage.

It is odd how something can both be a bad experience and a good experience at the same time. Thinking about this experience as a run and it was terrible. It was a grind and miserable at times. But when I think about it as a nature experience it was nearly perfect. I was out in nature experiencing something pretty unique for me, pushing through fresh snow and taking photos. As a nature experience it was something I needed. My dog just died and I needed to get outside and connect with nature and feel some connection and try to let the tension melt off me. This was the experience I needed. It was not the run I wanted or hoped for but it was the therapeutic nature experience that I needed to help me cope with life.


There was really nothing about this trail run that was normal. The snow slowed me to basically a walk at times, especially on hills. The deep snow made finding footing difficult. I couldn’t tell if my footfalls would be on trail or on flat ground. I spent much of the time fitting the edge of the trail being of balance. Tanglewood is a place I love to run at in part because I am so familiar with it. I have been there to hike and run dozens and dozens of times. However, on this occasion the snow also made the trail in general difficult to see. The trail was so difficult to see at times that I couldn’t tell if I was even on the trail during the course of my adventure. I found myself stopping multiple times and looking around trying to figure out if I was still on the trail or not. I could not really tell. I looked around slowly searching for trail markers. It really slowed me down in my progress on the trails but I did eventually find the trail markers and succeed in getting back on the trail.


I kind of think of this as a metaphor for life. In life unexpected and unfamiliar circumstances can blind you to your usual path. The path that you are so comfortable with you can follow blindfolded. But this new life experience has thrown you for a loop and no you are struggling to find your way. So, if you find yourself stuck by some unexpected life circumstances and you are struggling to find your footing or you can’t see the path your life normally follows anymore, stop and take your time. Get your bearings. Look around and find those trail markers that will guide you back to your path and help you find your way. Look to those friends and family members that have always been there for you and count on them to get you back on your feet and help you find your way again.

Run to clear the mind

Today was a tough day. Another dog with a trip to the vet. Another dog with a cancer diagnosis. That is two dogs with two cancer diagnoses in two weeks. Sometimes it just seems like life keeps kicking you.

When we got home I just need to do something. I couldn’t just sit at home with my thoughts. I needed action. There was no action I could take to help solve our dogs current health issues, but I needed to be active. I needed to get up and try to get my mind shifted into a different gear.

I got my running gear on and headed out the door for a run. I really didn’t feel into it at first. I was tired. In addition to the mental fatigue of the day I had been running  a lot the last few days. But I needed to be running now. I needed to feel that state that all runners know where you just get out there and get going and your mind clears and you are just out there and your mind body connection just takes over and you feel that peace that comes with running. But it just wasn’t happening for me.


Even worse while I ran my phone fell out of my arm strap, which has never happened before, so I ended up having to carry it. How annoying right? Well that’s what I thought. I am not normally one who believes in the saying that everything happens for a reason, but in hindsight I think my phone fell for a reason.

Shortly after my phone fell I a came across a deer standing in someones yard. Normally I would have just waved hi to the deer and kept on running. But I actually had my phone in my hand so I stopped to take a photo. The deer didn’t even move when I stopped and snapped a few photos.


Since the deer just stood there I took a few more photos and I leaned ion a little closer. Still the deer didn’t move. I took a step closer to the deer. The deer took a step towards me. To cross from the road to the yard I had to descend and ascend a small ravine. I thought surely doing that would scare the deer away, but no. For every step closer I took the deer approached me too.


Before I knew it I was face to face with a deer, a wild deer. First time for that. I never thought I would have that happen. The deer kept walking closer to me and I kept taking photos. The deer leaned right up to me and sniffed my hand that was holding my phone. I felt his nose and his whiskers on my hand.


This was just the experience I needed on a day like today. I love nature and a nice up close and personal experience with wildlife was just what was called for. It helped me get out of my negative frame of mind. My mind shifted into a different gear. I felt happy for the first time today. I remembered all the good things that will still be there when my heartache is over. It may take some time but it will happen.


After my encounter with the deer my run went much better. My spirits were lifted. I felt better. My running felt better. I didn’t feel so fatigued. I felt stronger. I was enjoying this run that at until that point had been kind of miserable. I didn’t run hard or fast but that wasn’t the point. The point was to get out and feel my muscles work and let my brain work through things and now that could happen.


There are not many things better to help you get out of a funk than a run and some nature.