On to the rocky trails

The trail, the cows, the sea

The trail, the cows, the sea

Lately I’ve been thinking about terms like skyrunning and mountain running, in part because I wrote about it, but mostly because I’ve been doing it. Traveling to Europe a few weeks ago –for immense pleasure, and also to work on a book project– I had a choice. I was either going to stop and wait until I could get back on the Alter-G treadmill and the forgiving beach sand of Los Angeles, some time in June. Or I was going to take the leap and run where ever I would be.

That latter approach has been mine since I began running in 2006. But my injuries had made me a bit wary and perhaps overly careful. I didn’t –don’t– want to mess up my knee/foot/back again. I’d only been running for real for a few months, still gently and with some hesitation. But even though I felt uncertain I did pack my new Nike trial shoes, my beloved Mountain Hardwear running backpack to hold water and essentials, and my running clothes. Clearly I sort of knew what to do.

Then I did it. First in the French Provence, then in the Norwegian town of Bergen, and now in the north-west of Italy. The trails call out to me. When I do a little road running my body protests: knees feel weak, calves feel tight. But when photo 3I get on the rocky trails like this morning, my body is happy and free. Running as lightly as I can I try to float. I jump over boulders, climb up steep hills, fly down hillsides. I say hello to the cows, laugh about the scrapes on my legs, and admire the Mediterranean below in the distance – azure indeed. This is mountain running, I realize. Skyrunning.

I may be no Kilian Jornet, no Thomas Dunckerbeck, but when I stop to look at the snowy Alps in the north I’m happy about my choice to no longer wait, to embrace again what comes naturally.

PS The blog of my New York running club, the Flyers, posted an abridged version of my book’s Afterword. A little teaser before the imminent publication of The Running Dutchman.