My favorite part of being outside in nature is….well, being outside in nature! I love my indoor gym, but I adore and crave what nature’s bounty offers in terms of fitness, wholeness, and general well-being. This is why I make sure to get outside and use nature in my quest for lifelong fitness. Also, endorphins. Yes, those!
My main passion is trailrunning and ultrarunning. Sure, I can run on the treadmill (I have a great one in my house). But there’s nothing better than hitting the trails, which I do every opportunity I have. I especially like gnarly, hilly, technical trails to train on because they make my legs stronger and come with big rewards: incredible vistas and the knowledge that I have achieved something great. They challenge my heart and spirit!
As I search for longer and longer distances, it’s important to maintain my flexibility. When I’m out on a long or short trail run, my body seems to crave a mid-run yoga session. I’m not great at it, but it feels so good to stretch and reset my body mid-way through a run. I really love this variation of chair pose (standing pigeon pose) to stretch out and loosen up my tight hips before heading back out.
My next favorite yoga pose is dancer’s pose, which you’ll find me doing everywhere. On the trail, in the middle of a lake nestled deep in a ravine, or on a shaky bridge. This is a great backbend, balancing pose and front body stretch.
After I do a Tough Mudder, I notice that even though my entire body is sore, my hips can be the sorest! So I’ve been working on hip flexibility with yoga, and also with trying to climb anything that looks climb-able! This is probably all wrong technique (I’m not a rock climber!) but I try and it feels almost as if I were a kid again climbing the rocks in Central Park, NYC! I know for a fact that incorporating play in my workouts will help make my hip stronger and more stable, my grip strength a little less tenuous, and my mind a bit more willing to dive into the experience and use my resources.
Sometimes on the trail I work on core strength. After I slid my way up this tree trunk, I had to keep my core stable to keep me from dropping down a forty-five degree slope. Core stability and arm strength can be practiced everywhere on the trail! (And also common sense…)
And finally, just practicing trail running on varied terrain—from rocky to smooth, rooty to rutted—is the best workout of all. You will utilize most of your muscles to remain upright, help you ascend steep hills, and keep you from keeling forward on descents. Your entire body will be engaged.