Over the last few years there is one question that I get above all others, why do you freak out when people use wooden toothpicks? This question has no bearing on anything, but you must admit the thought of a lip splinter is horrifying. Down the list of questions I get asked is my favorite to answer, why trail running? Before I answer, let me start with a little background. I started trail running few years ago and have been obsessed ever since. I ran over 700 miles on trails last year and participated in three trail races. In each of these races I was a top three finisher (if you don’t count the first 30 finishers). I live in Las Vegas, NV, so much of my trail running is done in the desert. It may shock you, but Las Vegas has more trails then the concrete ones that connect one buffet to another. We have an amazing trail running community, and hundreds of miles of beautiful single track. For about 6 months a year you can run these trails with a cool breeze in your face and sunshine on your back. The other 6 months require SPF 450, UV ray sunglasses, 50 ounces of water and a death wish. So back to my point. As one person explained to me, to run you put on some shoes, open your front door and go. He went on the explain door to door he can be done in 40 minutes and on with the rest of his day. To that I replied, I don’t have a rest of my day.
So why do I trail run? I explained to this uninformed pavement beater, trail running is not about running in the dirt its about the process of running in dirt. It takes me upwards of 45 minutes to get from my door to the trail head. Another 10 to get my props ready, my gps watch, headphones, trail shoes and most importantly a trucker hat turned backwards. Then its off, at a blistering 11-minute pace. Since I already have over an hour into the process it makes no sense to run a nice 5k. So, after a couple of hours on the trail, a moment of silence in the back of my FJ Cruiser, its back on the road to home. For a person with a pretty open social calendar, this is a nice way to use up your day. To this my friend asked, so you trail run to waste time? In part, I guess so. The true reason I believe I (and most of you) do this insanity, known as trail running is because it’s insane. We have chosen to “relax”, train and de-stress in an environment that has ankle destroying rocks, roots to plant us on our faces, snakes, bears, mountain bikers (I’ll discuss this obstacle later), heart exploding inclines and groin tearing declines. Places with names like the hurl, the landmine, and dead horse loop. On the trail my brain must focus solely on the process of running on the trail. In trail running there is no multi-tasking. My brain and body have one singular goal, don’t die. When I’m on a single track I have no bills, no problems at work, and no worries about my receding hairline. In a world with a 24 hour news cycle and more problems than I can name, quick tying my Saloman’s (I’m too lazy for laces), and disappearing into the great outdoors eliminates all of these problems from my clogged brain. Gyms have TV’s, sidewalks have people, but trails have hills, tree’s and my focus. To summarize why do I choose to run on a trail, let me share a story with you…
Back in 1990, I was standing at a party near a few of my sister’s friends, we’ll call them Todd and Jeff and Todd’s girlfriend Kelly. We will call them that because that’s what their parents called them. As they stood there, Todd suddenly looked incredulously at Jeff and asked “Dude, why did you just look at my girl’s butt?” Jeff responded with an answer that changed my life forever, “I don’t know, why does a man climb a mountain? Because it’s there.”
To the answer to my friends question, why do I trail run? I simply stated, because Jeff looked at Kelly’s butt.