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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Achenbach/ Soledad Canyon Loop- 01/28/12

I understand running fast, extending yourself beyond the 'shuffle', setting PR's, building speed, maintaining exercise and sustaining health and vitality, but what I don't understand is why you would want to achieve all of this by pounding the only body you're going to get in this lifetime running endless miles on pavement? Surely we weren't purposed for this as humans, not for any extended duration. I perceive the road as a last resort in regard to my running, it is hardly an option these days. If I'm in the throws of a running binge then maybe I'll hesitantly lace up the kicks, build a playlist to distract myself, and run a few miles on asphalt. Am I a fool to neglect the benefits of running road, particularly speed development as a runner? Yes, perhaps, but I sure as hell don't give a damn these days when my ability to run uphill is all that concerns me as of late. Vegetation on the couch often sounds more appealing to me than lacing up my shoes and running road. My brain and muscular system are in constant communication, they both concur that running is desirable; naturally this makes sense as a runner. So why does running road somehow shut off that communicative synapse between my brain and body? The only thing that I can think of is the absence of beauty and infinite possibility that is inherent with running in a manmade environment. When constrained to the infrastructure of modern city roads we engage in an activity under a certain set of parameters and rules, many of which we have utterly no control over. The concrete landscape dictates much of the act of running. Stop sign? Stop. Car? Watch out. Cyclist? Step aside. Red light? Look both ways. Dog? Run faster. Exhaust? Hold your breath. Of course there is the track workout. But who really wants to go run a 400m session after work? Not me, sounds too much like work. Today was one of those evenings where I was reminded why running trails is such a wholly satisfying activity. Before heading out to Achenbach Canyon I threw a few gels into my waist pack, checked the batteries in my headlamp, filled up a bottle, laced my shoes, and grabbed my dinky point and shoot in the event I wedged my leg in between a rock and felt like recording my suffering in the vein of Aaron Ralston. Double checking my headlamp I dropped down onto the trail with only the slightest apprehension as I looked back at a sun sulking below a darkening horizon. Sandstone and granite glowed a fiery red and orange as I ascended up the jagged single track trail winding its' way up towards the saddle. I stopped momentarily to absorb the view at the bottom of trail that ascends up to an unknown peak that I've been frequenting the last few weeks. A few hearty birds darted across the sky; a cricket chirped as if it were spring; a stirring wind calmed as the warmth of a late January day vanished with the Sun. There wasn't a road on the face of this planet that could rival the joy I felt just being out for an evening run along one of my favorite sections of trail. See, these are not sentiments that I carry for the countless roads that surround my neighborhood. If I'm going to sweat it out and put miles under my feet then I'm going to do it in a setting that inspires, challenges, shapes, and engages me fully. For whatever reason I was reminded of this today on my run and felt like sharing this here. This is no revelation for me, and perhaps for you either, 'we' all know it's better when you get out and get dirty.