The Zen of Trail Running

The other day, my running partner and I went for a trail run. It was one of those fantastic February days we get here in Colorado when the temperatures make it seem more like Spring than Winter. The sun was out, the wind was light and everything looked fresh, clean and new.

We headed up to one of our favorite locations west of town and scrambled out of our cars to get on the trail as fast as possible. Usually, I have him lead but I was feeling particularly spunky so I went out front.

The footing was great! Much of what had been covered in ice and snow a week earlier was now dry. The breeze had cleared away remnants of Denver’s notorious brown cloud and the city sparkled below my vantage point. In front of me, Boulder’s distinctive Flatirons shot up in the distance. For the first time in a long time, I was not struggling to get up the hill – my breathing was calm, my cadence was consistent and I felt absolutely pain-free!

It’s no wonder when I looked back for my partner, he was about a turn-and-a-half behind me. Ooops!

As I waited for him to catch up, I realized that I had experienced one of the things I like best about trail running – and running, in general. Running Zen. You what I am talking about. That peaceful feeling you have when you really are present in the moment and are totally aware of what is happening with and around you. It is powerful. It is magical. And it is something I strive for with each run.

Sure there are times when I need to know my splits or want to focus on repeats but for the most part, when I am on the trail, I get to disconnect and enjoy the run for the run itself. No pressure. No competition. No time goals. Just me, the trail and some of the world’s most amazing views. Ah … Zen!