Rediscovering the joys of slow happy running

It’s been a while since I have run purely for fun rather than because I was training for a race. My knees have needed and appreciated the near-complete break from running after the Victoria half marathon four weeks ago, but over this past week the itch to run has returned.

I ran an easy four miles along the waterfront the other day, accompanied by the calls of an unusually vocal common loon. Today I was ready for something a bit more adventurous.

I haven’t done any trail running since the Alaska trip last summer. This morning I suggested to my friend that we do the nearby Adventure Trail — he on his mountain bike and I on my two feet. It was not raining when we set out, but we both wore our waterproof jackets in anticipation of a sudden downpour. I normally wouldn’t consider running in a jacket — much too warm — so I was setting myself up for a leisurely run.

As it turned out, I was correct about the “leisurely” part. There were so many leaves on the trail that the numerous rocks and roots were completely hidden in many places. Every footfall became a planned, tentative event. The sensation was almost like running in slow motion (and the result was definitely slow).

But this wasn’t about pace! I had my GPS watch on but that was because I wanted to know how far I’d run. I wasn’t at all interested in how fast. I took a lot of walk breaks and stopped completely several times to capture scenes like this one.

The story gets better. By stopping to take that photo, I created a space and time in which to experience something truly rare and remarkable.

I heard a tree fall in the forest.

I didn’t see it directly. I heard two sharp cracks, the second louder than the first. I looked just to the right of the trees in the photo and saw branches shaking as though a large animal had just run through them. I heard a couple of soft whooshes as the tree (or it could have been just a large branch) fell through other trees — then a loud BOOM as the timber hit the ground.

My friend, who was out of sight ahead of me on his bike, did not hear the tree fall. For him, the tree falling in the forest did not make a sound. For me, it was a breath-taking audio experience!

Philosophical conundrum solved! It’s all about whether you have made yourself receptive to that tree at the moment of its fall. I had chosen to stop, look, and listen… and there it was.

I finished my run a little tired (trail running uses different muscles than road running!) but very happy. It was wonderful to be out there, finding my way through the leaves, rocks, and roots and not stressing one bit about how slowly I was going. Sometimes just the simple fact of forward motion, with nothing in my ears except my thoughts and the sound of my footsteps, is enough.

I hope you too found some happiness today… at whatever your favored pace. One step at a time!

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Posted on November 4, 2012, in Nature, Running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Has anyone suggested that you are getting younger? 🙂 You sound so good, and strong and balanced…and FIT! Good for you. I would just love to hear that common loon! Keep it up, Lori! You are an inspiration.

    • Debra, I don’t think I’m getting any younger, but I do feel stronger and more fit. I certainly intend to keep it up, because — as you’ll read in my next post later today — sometimes I need to be an inspiration to myself as well.

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