I go to the woods at least once a week now. There are hills there that would be good for high effort reps, but I don’t usually go out there for that reason.
After a tough weekend session I needed a win. I needed some peace. I needed to feel good about running. And I knew that a long, slow saunter up and around those woods would give me that. I wasn’t wrong.
Sunlight through the trees. The squawk and rustle of unseen birds. A scurrying squirrel who, shocked by my sudden appearance, took the path ahead at comical, lightning speed.
A simple trick I’ve learned for these little diversions is to take my phone. It’s so often a grim distraction in our lives, but I find that my phone forces me to slow down and smell the roses out in the woods because, popped in the front of my compression belt, it allows me to stop and take pictures of whatever I find interesting. Newly felled trees. Trees which fell god knows how long ago. Light scattered in the leaves. Interesting textures in the bark. Sure, I don’t need the phone to pause and look around, but it’s like easy running: yes, I know the benefits, I know I should do it, but it’s strangely difficult to not just go full tilt whenever I can. The camera, like a podcast, or trainers specifically selected for easy days, is a tool to remind me that running is an act of play, as much as it is training.
It’s fun, remember?