I am borrowing this title from Treadmill TV regarding a post of one of their new videos. I thought it spoke volumes, at least to me.
So, what does “running natural” mean (to me)? Lots of things, really. For starters, I think of nutrition. What am I putting into my gas tank?
In my younger years, when I ran 5k’s sporadically and was doing sprint triathlons, I wasn’t really concerned with nutrition, to be honest. I would drink the Gatorade they provided on race day and eat pasta the night before, and that was that.
As my training and racing distances changed, my thinking changed. I became more concerned about what I was putting into my body (ie sugar, additives, etc) and started to look for other alternatives. I wanted to feel good while I was training and racing, and I also wanted to feel better afterwards.
Enter coconut water, beet juice, homemade power balls, and the like. I also began to shed regular pasta from my menu in favor of quinoa, brown rice, chia seeds, steal cut oatmeal, and pasta made from legumes. All natural and all YUMMY
I did feel better with better fuel, and I have stuck with it.
What else does “natural” mean? Well, another thought that struck me when I read the title was trail running vs. road running. Yes, I was a road runner for a long, long time. Don’t get me wrong, I would hit the bike path or trail every now and again when my schedule permitted, but mostly I was on blacktop somewhere pounding out miles.
But, something happens when you substitute rocks and dirt for pavement. Something, well, magical. I can’t really put my finger on it, even though I have tried to label it for years now. I just feel ALIVE when running on trails. And the feeling lasts.
My closest description to that feeling? An open heart.
Another phenomenon that comes to mind is much more powerful, I think. Losing the watch. Yup, I said it. In today’s digital age, we are constantly connected, constantly analyzing and measuring. It’s too much noise for me sometimes. I leave the watch behind, and I run for the shear joy of it; for freedom. It’s quite liberating, really. Does it really matter what my pace is, how far I go, or what my pulse is if I’m not enjoying myself?
I’d rather be connected to the dirt than to my watch.
Take away from this? Well, try “running natural”, in whatever definition you take that to be. Free yourself, lose yourself, and enjoy yourself. Give your body and mind what it needs, and you will be rewarded.
Run Happy. Run Long.
Amy is a marathoner and triathlete, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and an Endurance Athlete Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also a marathoner and triathlete), and kids in Lewis Center.