Every run is different

  • This was printed in December of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 31st installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

“You could not step twice into the same river,” Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said.

Well, Heraclitus, you can’t run the same path twice either.

This year I’ve run more than 1,000 miles, most of them at Woodward Park, and

discovered that no two runs — or miles — are ever the same.

I guess I’m writing this in response to everyone who has asked me, “Don’t you get

bored?” when I tell people that I run four days a week. Nope, I don’t. It’s impossible to be

bored when the terrain, the people, the weather, the conversation, and the way I feel after

a run is constantly changing.

Getting bored of running would be like getting bored of life. I just don’t see how that

could happen.

I have run the 6-mile “up and back” route on the Eaton Trail at Woodward Park dozens of

times, but each has been unique. I’ve done half-mile and one-mile interval runs on that

same trail, but each sprint has been distinctive. I’ve run the 2.64-mile “around the park”

warm-up countless times, but there is always something new and different about each

excursion.

There’s always a different topic of conversation — or silence — a different mix of faces

to run with, different moods, different temperatures, different injuries, and different

animal sightings on the trail.

Speaking of animal sightings, our group ran the Finegold trail at Millerton Lake again on

Saturday and I accidentally chased some cows. I say “accidentally” because the two black

cows must have heard me coming before I spotted them — they were trotting on the trail

and looking anxiously behind them when I rounded a corner and saw them.

I did what any Millennial would have done: whipped out my camera phone and started

taking photos and videos of the huge beasts. I was at least a quarter mile ahead of the

next trail runner so I had to document the experience in case the animals decided to ram

me off of the cliff.

My group and I have encountered snakes, rabbits, coyotes, deer, and a bobcat on our

morning runs, but I’ve never been so uneasy around an animal as I was that day with two

huge, angry looking cows blocking my path. Thankfully the cows sauntered up the

mountain after a couple of minutes, leaving the trail clear for me.

It was my second time running Finegold, and I was delighted to see that it was a

completely different trail from the one we ran two weeks ago. To clarify, it was the same

trail, but the terrain and experience was so different from before that it could’ve been a

trail on the opposite side of the world.

Mother Nature changed the trail within those two weeks, adding a few icy patches, frost,

piles of cow poop and branches to the path. The ground felt entirely different under my

feet. I could’ve slowed down and been more careful. Instead I ran faster and slipped on

frost and slid into a gate, just a mile after tripping and nearly face-planting on the hard

packed soil.

Running will teach you a thing or two — or 10,000 — about life, if you look for the

lessons. It’ll teach you to slow down and rethink your strategy, as I learned Saturday on

the trail.

In running and in life there is always a new obstacle to overcome, a new triumph, a new

goal set and met. There are changing paces, sprints, cool downs and recovery periods. (I,

for one, feel like the holidays are my life sprint, and I’m hoping for a nice recovery

afterward.)

But there is one lesson I’m still confused about — the saying goes “when life gives you

lemons, make lemonade” but what the heck do I do with a cow?

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