The Tonic of Wildness

We need the tonic of wildness, to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground.

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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I’ve had Thoreau in my head lately. So with him as my inspiration, I decided to change things up for yesterday’s run. The sun was bright and there was a fairly fresh coat of snow on the ground. It was so pretty out, I needed to get out of the house. It’s been one bad-weather day after another here and I’m experiencing a bit of cabin fever. Unfortunately, the roads weren’t all the way cleared and the sidewalks were a little icy, so I decided to try the trails. It was a good call.

IMG_0103I frequently trail run in the warmer months, but this is the first time I’ve been on them in the snow. I chose the trail I did because it’s a scenic, hilly 1 mile loop. So if anything happens I’m not too far from the car, but I still get the feeling of being far, far away from civilization. The first loop I did a slow run/walk just to get a feel for the terrain, enjoy the view, and snap some photos.

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I tried out my new Buff. It worked well. I felt like a ninja, but it was comfortable, it stayed in place, and it kept the cold air from invading my lungs. My glasses kept fogging up, but if it means I can breath, I’ll deal with it.

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I definitely overdressed. I put on what I normally wear in this weather, but I didn’t take into consideration that all the trees provided a natural wind barrier. I normally run through town, or on a country road where I’m flanked by corn fields which offer little protection from the elements. Running through the forest was much warmer. I was glad I chose this trail, because I ended up stopping at the car to peel off a layer after the first loop. All I could think of was my son quoting SurvivormanSurvivorman used to be one of his favorite shows and he’s very concerned about winter safety now. For the last few minutes before I got back to my car, the only thing that was going through my head was, “Mom, if you sweat, you die.” It made me giggle.

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Running through a few inches of snow was slow going. My legs, my abs, even my arms feel it more than usual today. Despite the extra nagging in my tired muscles, it was a fun run. I only ended up doing 3 loops before I needed to move on to the next item on my to-do list. I only actually ran about 2.25 of the 3 miles I traveled yesterday. I felt like I could have gone longer, but that was all the free-time I had. Of course I would have had more free-time if I hadn’t spent a good 20 minutes debating with myself about whether or not to go for a run.

My pace yesterday was pretty slow. There were a few slick downhills and a few spots where the creek had flooded and then froze over. I slowed down for those spots. I didn’t want to start the new year off with an injury. Stopping to enjoy the view a few times, snapping a ton of photos on the first loop, and stopping at the car once didn’t help my time any either. But this run/explore wasn’t about pace or mileage, it was about getting out of the house and finding motivation again. In that I succeeded.

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If I decide to keep blazing trails through the snow, I definitely need to invest in a pair of gaiters. A few more loops and my feet would have been pretty wet and eventually pretty cold.

Soon after I got home another snow band came down off the lake. That means there will be new snow. Maybe I can blaze a new trail somewhere else….

Where is your favorite place to run in the winter? Do you ever go off the beaten path?

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