As I was leaving my last appointment for the day I quickly glanced at the sun’s position in the western Wyoming sky. Looking at my watch brought confirmation to an idea. “Just maybe – if I hurry I can get in a run before the sun sets over the Tetons” I whispered to myself. Glad my running gear was within arm’s reach. What lay before me on the Cache Creek Trail bordering Jackson, Wyoming was not on my checklist.
A few minutes later I was on a dirt, single track trail that meandered along paralleling Cache Creek. I began the steady climb encompassing the gentle rolling elevation changes that coursed through meadows, groves of aspens, spruce and fir trees. I wasn’t paying attention to my watch nor pace. I was just running. Soon I found myself jumping large rocks, fallen trees, speeding up upon exiting from tight corners and in general really having fun. Running through a stand of aspens with their golden leaves within reach I grabbed a fistful, flung them high into the air and continued to run forward as they showered down upon my head and shoulders. Made me feel rich. Continuing on I began running imaginary races, pushing race pace and dropping competitors at will. I felt fast. What a fun run. All too quickly the trail head appeared and my run came to an end. It was then I realized how much play I had incorporated into this particular run. Not quite the objective for the day but I had fun.
How often do we take time to incorporate play into our runs? Very seldom. What a shame. Here is an activity that we all enjoy, spend copious amount of hours engaging in and sacrifice far too often the “fun factor”. Don’t hear me wrong – there is a time for focused attention to the task at hand. I have never advocated that repeat miles (at race pace or below) end with laughter. Try laughing out loud for a sustained period during a run. Reminds me of a time in college running with my training partner Paul Wieczorek (800/1500 specialist) who at four miles into an eight mile run had me laughing so hard I had to stop and walk. Something about cats.
I do know this – remove the fun factor and you won’t last. Not one of us enjoys the demands of long distance running without some element of fun. The Friday night before Christmas break, our college cross country team drove into Kansas City and invaded the “Plaza”. The epicenter of night life in downtown KC with a bit of “upscale” to it’s offerings. The architecture is a distinct European style reflecting a Moorish element from Spain. KC has earned the title “City of Fountains” due to its’ numerous large scale fountains found there. It is here during the Christmas season the exterior contours of the Plaza are adorned with white Christmas lights. Millions of them. It was here that particular evening that this college XC team ran it’s way along the sidewalks in front of restaurants, art shops, jewelry stores, with bells tied to their shoes and Santa hats on their heads. The smiles received from patrons were priceless. What a memory. Still lives today.
So – where is your Cache Creek fun? Bet it is there. Might just need to cut it loose.
Until next time – enjoy the run!