I used to say I loved running on the roads, and the busy ones were my favorite.
The roads that other people complained were too noisy, had too much exhaust and too many stop lights, those were my top picks. Cars rushing by felt like a challenge to go faster, the constant breeze kept the sweat off my face, an abundance of fast food chains and gas stations meant that bathrooms were plentiful and (although most runners hate this), I’ll never say no to a nice stretch break at a red light.
Of course, I occasionally found myself on quieter streets (especially when I was at UConn, it’s just simply hard to avoid) and once in a while on a trail. Runs on the Bedford bike path or Vernon rail trails were always a treat, but I never thought of them as the norm.
But in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area (DMV as I’ve learned to call it) they are.
Paint Branch, Mount Vernon, Anacostia, Capital Crescent, C&O Canal, Rock Creek, Cross Island…the list goes on and on.
Just days after I moved, on my first long run in the state, I found one, just half a mile from my house, and instantly I fell in love.
It was true there were no cars motivating me to run faster, and the silence, especially at 5 a.m., could get pretty eerie, and the deer became more of a nuisance than a reason to stop and take a photo, and the bikers make me fear for my life every now and again, and the bathroom situation was far less glamorous, and I had no excuses to take a stretch break…
And yet, I loved them.
All examples of when I stopped for a break, not because I had to, but to take a photo.
The mental aspect of running as an escape, as a release, as a break from the everyday hustle and bustle becomes a visual reality on the trails. It’s just you and the path…sometimes another runner, sometimes a biker, sometimes a gorgeous view that becomes an excuse to stop…but mostly you and the path.
No cars. No excess noise. No stop lights breaking up your rhythm.
It’s the perfect place to just go for miles and miles and miles and realize how amazing your body is, how beautiful the world is and how much there is to be thankful for.
Even on the hard days, the long days, the stressful days, the ones that seem impossible to make it through. Even on those days, the trails are there for you. Find them.
And when you do, bring a friend, spread the trail running love.
If you have any favorite running trails or paths or places comment below! Share them and help others find a place to run that’s a little bit different than the regular old road.