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Trail Running, Decisions.

Posted Sep 30 2013 9:27pm

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I'm "in recovery" from running the brutal Megatransect mountain marathon this past weekend in Lock Haven, PA and wondering about lessons learned.  It was an all day affair for most of us who finished on average in about 9 hours....clamoring up and down steep grades, hand over hand on boulder fields that seemed to go on forever, passing fellow trail runners injured or just tired out along the way.  I was lucky in that I didn't fall, twist an ankle, blow out a knee, like quite a number of my fellow trail nuts.  A few scrapes and cuts, total exhaustion, dehyration....but some great local beer and barbecue at the finish line!

What's real interesting to me are the conversations that take place along the course.  You meet real interesting people at the aid stations along the way or on the trail...encouraging each other, making funny remarks, sharing a little philosophy.  My big insight that I shared with others: In trail running "every step is a decision."  And those decisions are important.  Unlike marathon or ultra marathon races on roads, trail runners have to watch their feet at every step, working to stay on soft ground as much as possible (easier on the knees and joints), avoiding roots, rocks (or not if you decide that one rock or root might help propel you more efficiently).  So in road running you just keep running, while in trail running you look and decide, look and decide for hours and hours...and, of course, you don't stop.  

In real life we all make many decisions each day: What should I eat for breakfast? What should I wear? How should I start today's class I am teaching? Should I call that friend I've been meaning to contact? Should I start a new relationship or end an old one?  We are constantly making decisions, some good and some not-so-good.  But it's important to be mindful of how important those decisions may be! I've never met a trail runner who hasn't make a bad decision (resulting in a "face plant," twisted ankle, or worse).  The key is awareness.  Each of us is a continual decision maker, and those decisions....matter.

When we are in conflict with others it is often about decisions that have been made that we don't agree with or which are counter to our own agendas.  Before we sit in judgement of decisions made by others it may be helpful to reflect on the nature of these decisions including situational and personal factors and the simple fact that none of us can always get it right.  After 5 or 6 months of training and surviving the Mega...I'll just consider myself lucky.

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