Happy Trails

I am a runner. That is one sentence you will likely never hear me use to describe myself. I do enjoy running, and at the moment, I am in a phase where I actually do run, as well, but that doesn’t make me a runner anymore than enjoying a glass of wine makes me a food critic.

One thing I have noticed is that when it comes to exercising, I do much better when I have something like a plan to go by. That’s how I’ve enjoyed the Wii workouts, that’s how I’m training for my first 5K, and if at all possible, that is how I will continue working out in general and running in particular, even after the current time limits are up.

I’ll admit that while the “put on shoes and go” philosophy behind running is enormously appealing to me, putting it into practice is not. I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to WHERE I run. For example, running on flat surfaces for a long time is boring and exhausting to me, so I actually prefer to run hilly terrain. I’m not a fan of pavement, and I loathe the thought of jogging next to a busy road and having to breathe exhaust fumes, so I take it to the woods. Luckily, I have woods in abundance to take my little used sneakers to, and many lovely trails to explore.

Recently, an article about trailrunning caught my eye in the German edition of Runner’s World magazine. First, I was surprised, then slightly annoyed at how the sport was presented, however: instead of being satisfied with existing paths and trails, basically the article advocates forging your own. Yes, through bush, brush and wood, even where no trail exists, that actually being touted as the truly challenging and exhilarating touch. Now, I can well remember how cool and fun it was to play jungle in the bushes of our backyard when we grew up (and how much it must have annoyed the housemeister when we whacked the crap out of those bushes), so I sympathize. But I cannot agree with the philosophy behind the fun.

As a dog owner, I am well aware that hunters and foresters have good reason to prefer my keeping my dogs out of the woods and on the trails. They can scare animals, trample nests, destroy fox, rabbit and badger holes, not to mention tear up the vegetation when it’s not necessary. I find it a little odd that a German sports magazine would encourage its readers to trod down grass and brush and create new paths, especially considering that where the runners are, the bikers will soon follow. Can you imagine the destruction if suddenly hoards of sensation seeking sports nuts tear through the forests?! So please, if you happen to be in my neck of the woods – stay on the path that is there for you to use.

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