There was a time when I had something against running.
I’m not sure if it was the laborious repetition of pounding pavement when I had the option of riding one of my bikes, or maybe it was those cheesy (though sometimes clever) Nike commercials about how a daily run could make your body into a weapon or something.
I used to run cross-country races in high school, and while I was never provincial-level material, I did enjoy pushing my body to the point of near collapse a couple of times a year. Then bikes happened, and I found no reason to jar my knees constantly when I could spin my cranks.
There were three things that got me back into running.
The first was getting a dog. Walking the pooch a couple of times a day in the winter lets me catch up on my favourite podcasts and gets me outside regardless of the weather, but in the summer my dog longs for bigger missions in the woods. He doesn’t always have the endurance to keep up with the long mountain bike rides I like to do, so I split the difference and take him trail running. That way I’m feeling the exertion as much as he is and we’re more evenly matched on the distance we’re willing to run together.
The second was trying out barefoot running shoes. I wrote few weeks ago about my experience with the Vibram FiveFingers and while these weird-looking toe-wrapping soles are not for everyone, they did change the way I run. The knee-jarring heel strike I loathed for all those years is now gone so I can run further and longer without pain setting in.
The third was just living here in Whistler. With mountain bike trails suitable for trail running pretty much everywhere and a vehicle-free Valley Trail linking them all, it’s hard to complain about having nowhere to run. If you’re still wasting hours on treadmills during the summer, wake up and get outside. Your stats aren’t that important; appreciating Whistler’s amazing trail system is.
I also love running in the rain. Coming home from a muddy trail run, hosing off myself and the dog then jumping in the shower is a great way to make the most of the wet days when biking causes excessive trail erosion and wears out your drive train.
The popularity of races like the Whistler Half Marathon shows that good old-fashioned pavement running hasn’t lost its appeal, but Whistlerites do like their technical trail running. The Comfortably Numb race last week had almost 100 people at the start line to run 25 km over roots and bridges and the summer will have loads of off-road running races to choose from like the Tenderfoot Boogie Ultra, the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series and the Rubble Creek Classic.
Time to replace those dilapidated running shoes and hit the trails.
This column first appeared in the Whistler Question in June, 2014