Today I trampled 7 miles of unfrequented trail here in Pittsburgh’s north hills. I watched the hawks and crows fight (they’re always fighting) and I mingled with my deer friends – they all know me. Some of the trail was nice and some was snow and some was ice. I can’t say it easy run but, of course, it was a rewarding run.
But why run at all? Because that’s what all the cool kids are doing? Well, this motivation could be a good fit here in the North Hills but sooner of later you’re alone with a wooded trail, by yourself for the day and wondering whether it’s worth all the time and exertion. This is the time you’ll need a better reason than social pressure.
I run for readiness. More than anything else, this is what keeps me ready to run, jump, carry a back pack, ride a bike or just access remote places. Running provides the foundation. My heart, lungs and legs stay healthy. Some might also posit certain irreplaceable mental benefits. And I’m sure that running along singe-track trails through the forest keeps me more at one with the woods – ready to move quickly through it as the need arises. And often the need arises unexpectedly, even if we’re only talking about an opportunity for vigorous recreation. What if I’m invited by friends to ride a few hundred miles of bike trail in two weeks? What if a trail running race comes to my attention 10 days out? Kind of short notice to initiate a training program.
In discussions of preparedness, or the faddish “prepping” of today, we too quickly move to discussions of gear without first examining our own body and mind to assess our own adequacy. I guess it’s just easier to buy rugged looking things than to cultivate the things that money can’t buy. And it’s not just an idle pontification. We stockpile knives, axes and canned foods but maybe couldn’t carry this stuff ten miles through the woods if we really had to.