Trail Run Tempo

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Trail running can be hard.

In Utah, where 99.9% of all trails head directly UP, and switchbacks are scarce, getting into trail running can be, well, exhausting. If you’re hard-pressed to find a moderate trail to begin on, is it even worth “running” at all if you spend the majority of the time speed-hiking?

When I talk to people about venturing into the world of dirt and scraped knees, the most common, and almost immediate, response is this:

I don’t think I can run the whole thing.

My dear, sweet friends, I have good news for you!

The majority of trail runners walk the uphills.

You read that right! When I first started trail running I had no idea that even the elitest of the elites will hike the uphills and run the downhills (granted their uphills are literal mountains, but still).

So when we’re talking about how fast or slow you should be trail running, the best answer I can find is to do what feels right for YOU and YOUR BODY. It’s easy to get so caught up in what we think we should or shouldn’t be doing, that we make it impossible for ourselves to even start. That’s a nasty trap to get caught in.

In Salt Lake, there are some great, moderate trails for beginners. The Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon, and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail near the Avenues and the University, are both great options. And as you move on from there, give yourself grace, and a high-five for getting out in the first place.

The outdoors can be intimidating, I know from experience. It’s even more intimidating when you live in a place that professional athletes use as their training ground. However, I suggest we use that as motivation to get out and get after it.

Who knows? After a few years of training you could be running laps around the Wasatch.

 

The Chasm Between Social Media and Real Life

A few years ago, NPR aired a story about the rise of our discontentment as it relates to the rise of social media. My generation isn’t numb to these effects, in fact, we are arguably the most affected by it.

The rise of social media outlets and our obsession with, and dedication to them, has shown us just how much is possible for our lives. We’re well past the days where word of first ascents came a month later in the American Alpine Journal.

If you’re a woman who wants to be a CEO or a man who wants to be a homemaker, you can find at least one other person who’s done what you’re setting out to do, and find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone.

Literally, anything is possible.

For this, I am so thankful for Facebook, Instagram, Google, and other sites like them. I can figure out who came before me and what they did to get there. I can hop on Instagram, search a hashtag, and find a burst of inspiration to get my butt in the gym.

Along with the good, however, comes the bad.

Like how many times I feel shitty about myself because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. I have a job and other things I love to do and I’m not out climbing or skiing or running everyday. And the problem with Instagram is it makes it seem like everybody else is.

So many accounts, my own included, display an ongoing stream of outdoor photos, and it’s time to confess: that’s not my whole life.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish it was, and I hope someday it will be. I hope someday I can make enough to set out with my husband and our future dog in tow. But until then, I think it’s important to be honest.

So I decided that going forward I’m going to be real.

For example:

I binge watch The Great British Baking Show.

I scroll through Facebook until my eyeballs hurt.

I rarely read a novel through the first time.

Sometimes I literally groan as I enter the gym.

I get scared when I’m lead climbing.

I get even more scared on multi-pitches.

I love to cook.

Sometimes I take four hour naps on sunny days.

I’m still overcoming my irrational fear of bears.

Some days I feel sad and overwhelmed by my dreams.

I often feel lost.

I consistently question my ability to write or climb or ski.

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops.

I am the definition of a work in progress.

What I’m trying to say is this, before you put yourself up against everyone else on Instagram and Facebook, give yourself some credit for being human, and then some more for all that you’re doing already.

It’s weird and beautiful to be human, and it’s important to recognize that in ourselves and everyone around us.

 

Midweek Round-Up #3

Shorter work weeks may cut our CO2 emissions in half, reduce our stress, curb accidents, promote gender equality, and reduce unemployment. I’m in! Read the full thought-provoking article on the TED website.

The EPIC May 2017 edition of Outside came out with a crew of badass woman dominating it’s cover with the headline: The Future of Adventure is Female.

Spring and summer are upon us, and so are the much needed reminders to Leave No Trace. This article is a great reminder about what is acceptable trail etiquette and what’s…not so much. Check it out and decide for yourself if you’re an asset or detriment to the outdoors.

Brendan Leonard’s website, Semi-Rad, is where my inspiration for a midweek round up came from. He posts insightful, and often hilarious articles. He’s also just completed his second book, The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide, which is currently on it’s way to me.

And an awesome quote from Hunter Drew:

“This is something I’d like you to recognize and truly wrap your mind around. Everyone makes an excuse as to why they can’t do the things they need and want to do. Only a very select few people out there are making excuses to do the things they need to do.

People have become so comfortable that they’d rather suffer a mediocre existence than put in the slightest effort required for improvement.

Instead of complaining about the problems that you have in your life, start working to solve them. Stop being so comfortable sitting around talking about how the world is holding you down. You are holding you down—GET UP! Stand up and start doing.

Stop being so goddamn comfortable all the time. Implement some intentional discomfort into your life.”

What They Don’t Tell You About Running

Around 5am every morning you can hear the low hum of complaint as angry runners rise from their comfy beds to get 30 minutes in before the day is underway. They grumble as they lace up their running shoes, grunt as they pull on their compression socks, and whimper as they step out into the cold, unforgiving world. They force their way through three unpleasant miles, and kiss the door as they return, so absolutely thankful that running is out of the way, and they don’t have to go through the process for another 24 hours.

Fun, right?

And then they go to work and complain to their coworkers about how much they hate running, but they have to do it. They do it for the carbs, or for the abs, but never because they want to. We love the camaraderie of misery.

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I used to be a spiteful runner. I ran in spite of what I wanted, and for that I was proud. I made myself run today, wasn’t I a rockstar? I didn’t give in to my primal desire to lay in bed all day, feasting on Cheetos and binging on Netflix. No, I went out and I ran.

It was awful.

All that time I spent angry about my feet hitting the pavement was a lot of wasted energy. If running is something you do for thirty minutes a day, four times a week, that’s over 100 angry hours every year. Four entire days of negativity. Sounds exhausting.

Especially because something wonderful happens when you embrace the choice to run. Your body finds it’s rhythm. You start to feel like a gazelle. You start to build confidence and mental endurance. You begin to believe you were made to run. And guess what, you were.

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Our ancestors were persistence hunters, chasing down their prey before the invention of bows, arrows, and rifles. We ran to protect ourselves from predators, and as early as 1829 B.C. we were running for sport in ancient Greece. Our body mechanics, from our glutes, to our sturdy trunk, are huge proponents in our choice to continue moving forward. Running is natural.

Let’s stop buying into the negative narrative about running. In our everything-is-easy-and-accessible world, we shy away from hard things at a rapid pace. While I have a newfound perspective on running, I don’t neglect the fact that running is hard. When I’m running uphill and my lungs are on fire and I feel like I’m going to collapse, I curse the hill, but I keep moving forward. When my arms start to tingle around mile 6, and the sun is beating down on my shoulders, and sweat is burning my eyes, I am thankful to be moving.

Let’s change the narrative and embrace the run.

When You Realize Your Life Will Be Different Than You Imagined

When I was a little girl I often dreamt about the future. I pictured myself as an astronaut, a worldwide traveler, a writer. As I grew up I pictured different scenarios for myself, as a wife, a professor, maybe an editor at some big-time New York magazine. And when I got into college I pictured myself in libraries, researching, studying, spending long hours in front of my computer.

I thought of the future in common terms. As much as I didn’t want to be consumed in the 9-5 fold, I started drifting in that direction, accepting the fact that maybe doing the job I loved would mean structure and repetitive rigidity.

I never imagined myself as an adventurer. I never imagined a strong pull towards the mountains, a draw to push my physical boundaries, the desire to bag peaks and traverse ridgelines. I always played it safe.

What happens when your life begins to turn in a direction you always wanted, but never expected?

Fear has dictated the majority of my choices. I defined limits for myself to prevent dicey situations. I wanted to be “outdoorsy,” and explore more, but it didn’t seem feasible. I continually shut myself down and made excuses when opportunities to climb or tour or run came up.

In this last year all of that changed. I started controlling my fear. I began building confidence and competence in the outdoors. I asked questions, lead my first trad pitch, climbed a 5.12. I took an AIARE 1 course, toured by myself, and began planning trips that I wanted to take. And all of that is exciting and consuming and exhilarating and completely opposite of what I thought my life would be.

I assumed my life would line up pretty similarly to the way I was raised. It’s a classic issue between what we know and what we don’t know. I know that I would be comfortable and happy pursuing a stable career and a traditional life, because I know so many people who have. My parents, my friends, my friend’s parents, and parent’s friends. I assumed my life would play out a similar course.

But when I started getting out into the mountains, and exploring the Wasatch, and discovering I’m physically capable of far more than I’d imagined, I realized my goals were heading in a different direction.

It scares me in the way the unknown always does. In the way that I have no idea what this life will look like because pursuing anything physical long-term was never on the agenda for me. I’m book smart, and a repeat offender of apathy towards physical work.

It feels a lot like closure. All these ideas and expectations I didn’t realize I was holding onto are now showing themselves in the smallest ways. And, as almost all of us know, releasing expectations is a hard, tricky experience.

I’m choosing the path of most resistance, my friends, and I’ll be honest, as exciting as it is to re-imagine your life, it’s also kind-of a pain in the ass.

Cheers to semi-new beginnings and embracing what gives you joy!

Have you ever re-evaluated your life and realized it’s direction was different than you’d assumed it would be? Give me your tips!

*image courtesy of unsplash

 

New Year, New Tribe

The problem, ultimately, isn’t that there aren’t enough options in retail stores, it’s that there aren’t enough women getting out and charging.

As 2016 comes to an end (can you even believe it?), and we all start making our new years resolutions and thinking about the people we are now, versus the people we were a year ago, versus the people we want to become, I want to plant a seed.

I often hear and read about complaints from women in the outdoors that they want more options for gear. We are all frustrated with the lack of options for women’s technical gear, the discrepancy in options between men and women’s climbing shoes, and ultimately the variety of what we can purchase in the store to protect us all outside.

I get it.

The other day, though, I started thinking that we’ve been wanting a band-aid cure. We just want the outdoor companies to meet our needs (which is fair). We want to feel represented and to have them recognize that woman can, and do, charge just as hard as men. I’m not here to belittle that. AT ALL. We woman are powerhouses and we have come so far in the outdoor industry. Kudos to us.

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Beyond that, we’re living in an incredible time where organizations like SheJumps, And She’s Dope Too, Bold Betties, She Shreds Co, Chicks with Picks (and on and on and on) are hosting meet-ups, and planning rendezvous’, and organizing all women’s AIARE courses.

Because of this, I think the answer and the push to getting more technical gear for women is in the works. From a marketing and monetary stand point, for a long time it didn’t make sense to stock the floor with technical gear for women. Think about it, whatever REI puts on the floor is a direct representation of their customers wants/needs. So yeah, there is a growing number of us who want/need a bigger variety of technical gear, but there are also a lot of women who don’t need alpine bibs or expedition mitts.

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Here’s what I’m saying: in 2017 we need to be more vigilant in inviting our friends outside. The problem, ultimately, isn’t that there aren’t enough options in retail stores, it’s that there aren’t enough women getting out and charging. We need more women doing more awesome things in the outdoors. The easiest and best way to do this is to find your tribe of badass woman and hit the trails and crags and slopes, and encourage them (as they’ll encourage you) to challenge themselves–to climb the harder route, to ski the black diamond, to spend five days in the wilderness. Since I moved to Salt Lake City, I’ve met so many woman (most who also just moved here) that want to get outside, but don’t know where to start. It’s so easy and fun and exciting to invite someone along on your adventure. My climbing gym gives me a free pass every month, and it’s usually spent introducing someone to climbing.

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So go ahead, write it on your list of resolutions in 2017. Let this next year be a year that women continue to encourage other women to get outside, face their demons, and overcome challenges. We’ll all be the better for it.

Joe’s Valley (And Why the Climbing Community Rocks)

I’ve never considered myself a boulderer. Not on any level. In fact, it wasn’t until recently, after I’d moved to a completely new city and state, and lost all my previous climbing partners, that I found myself in the bouldering gym. Doing boulder-y things. Like trying to be burly. And dynamic. And walking around in a bro-tank.

Just kidding. About the burly-ness that is….

img_5938Anyways, the more I’ve bouldered, the more I’ve come to enjoy the movements and strength. (Plus the grunting, you can’t forget the grunting.)

With all my new-found intrigue and lack of total loathing for bouldering, I suggested to a couple friends we head down to Joe’s Valley in South Central Utah for the weekend to wreck our fingers on the magnificent sandstone. img_5794

And wreck we did.

We decided to start out on the warm-up boulder by the creek, then quickly progressed to the incredible Big Joe problem on the Big Joe boulder. It’s a V7. I’m not a V7 climber. However, working my way through the strong movements gave me hope that someday I might find myself completing more difficult problems.

The rest of the day we putzed around on a few 4’s and 5’s and were mostly shut down on everything we tried. Ah, the beauty of the desert.

img_5778That evening my fancy fiancé made Dutch Oven enchiladas and we all sat around the fire playing music, enjoying a few too many glasses of wine, and dabbling in philosophical conversations.

Waking up early the next morning was definitely not an option, so we hit the boulders in Man Size, near the campground, around 10. Not only was it my first time on a bouldering trip, but it was my first real experience climbing with a group of women who were climbing hard and trying hard and encouraging one another. On top of that, the guys we were climbing with were also encouraging and empowering and inspirational.

After lunch we headed back down to the warm up boulder, so I could work on my v5 project, and some of the guys wanted to check out The Angler. We were all cheering each other on, letting out some words of affirmation and motivation when two of my friends (who were climbing outside for the first time EVER…yay converts!) said to me, “Wow, I think climbers might be the most positive people I’ve ever met.”

Yeah. This community is home to me.