It can be hard to run without looking your watch, without thinking about mile splits, training effects, or the metrics on the app which you will look at when you get back home. It is the negative of the double edged sword which is technology, in general.
We can analyse ourselves and by extension, on occasion, we can improve . But go too deep, too often, and you’ll find yourself veering into the realm of the hyper-critical, the self-conscious, the obsessed. In running, you have to be able to see the woods for the trees. You have to be able to know that hitting an exact mile pace on a training run, really, in the grand scheme of things, means wonderfully little when it comes to racing, and racing means wonderfully little when it comes to the greater, more exciting, more beneficial, erm, benefits of running.
So, to be able to see the woods for the trees, I went to the woods.
And, now I’ve been to the woods, I keep going back. Suddenly, where I’m running, and what I’m surrounded by means more to me than how fast I’m running.
There are physical benefits to running in the woods, or just trail running wherever you can find it, as long as it provides more challenging, hillier terrain. The movement that your body has to make to successfully traverse the muddy, rooty ground, to negotiate the sharp trails which bend around and through the ancient trees, is much different from the relentless forward momentum of road running.
In truth though, I keep going back to the woods because it feels good. It forces a slower, more conscious mode of self-propulsion. And it’s just nice to be there. Beneath the canopy. In the quiet.
I expect to lose many hours there as my training continues.