Made in the shade

As much as I love trails, I can’t get to them every day. So a few days a week, I pound the pavement.
Today was one of those days. We had a steady rain overnight. I knew the trails would be extra muddy. I didn’t have time to drive all over town, looking for a runnable trail. So pavement it would be.
When I run roads, I seek out the quietest shadiest roads I can find. No sense running under the hot sun. That’s a major reason I run trails in the first place. They’re nice and cool — and scenic and relaxing.
My neighborhood isn't quite THIS shady, but close. When I run roads, this is the kind of seek out.

This is the kind of shady street I seek out when I do the occasional road run.

Fortunately, there are lots of pretty streets in my neighborhood. The closest is a one-mile loop that goes right by my house.  

After last night’s rainstorm, the air was wonderfully cool this morning, with cloudy skies. I glided around the one-mile loop six times. The cool air was delicious. I finished in 52:10 and felt ready for the day.


I have a lot of running friends. But I also have plenty of friends who hate running.

One told me that he would try running as soon as he saw his first happy-looking runner.

Another told me she was never so bored as when she used to run.

And here’s what one of my non-running friends wrote recently on his Facebook page: “I ran a mile and a half in 11:43 – and hated every minute of it. Back to the bike.”

My first thought: You guys might have a point. Running can be painful and boring. It can be hot and sweaty.

My second thought: Where were these people running? On a sidewalk? Down a city street? Along a busy road? I would hate that too. But that’s where most beginners run — from their front door and down the sidewalk. I don’t blame them for hating it. 

I don't blame this pavement pounder for looking like this. Hey, bud, it's better on the trails!

Another victim of the mean streets. Hey bud, next time, hit the trails! Or at least a shady road.

So I suggested to this guy who complained that he “hated every minute of it” that he slow down a bit (if his numbers were right, he was running a 7:48 pace), and look for a shady, scenic road or a groomed trail. I think he would relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Now here’s the other side of the coin. I know a guy who has run dozens of marathons and ultras. Last month, he DNF’ed a 100-mile race, the Massanutten Mountail Trail 100, a very hilly ultra in Virginia. 

So did he “hate every minute of it”?

Let him say it in his own words: “I’m happy to have covered 65 miles of the MMT course this weekend despite having temps in the mid 80’s, high humidity, golf ball sized hail, and 4 hours of rain at night,” he wrote on Facebook. “I plan on going back next year though to get my buckle.”

The trails are like that. Once they get in your blood, you just can’t shake them, no matter how much they hurt you.

Trail Fever. It’s a great affliction. I’m trying to pass it along to as many runners as I can.


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