I am no stranger to stubbing my toes on rocks and roots during trail runs and ultramarathons.
An ongoing collection of black toenails and a couple toes that never stop aching are evidence of trying to run through obstacles instead of around or over them.
Finally, I have realized it’s worth the effort to run like water.
Flow, weave and take the path of least resistance.
A rolling boulder is in diametric opposition to flowing water. No doubt, you’ve seen the running boulders during trail runs and races. They charge from behind, pass you like there’s no tomorrow and then plow through the trail like it’s a lifelong enemy.
Stronger runners run like water, not like boulders.
How to run like water:
1. Decide whose side you’re on—The trail or road is our friend, along with all its cohorts. As soon as you start working against a friend you will soon find an enemy. Don’t get mad when the trail is littered with roots and rocks, they are there to make the journey better.
2. Notice the Nuances—As water flows it feels the organic material thoroughly. Every pebble, weed, and grain of sand is reached by its tendrils. As you run what do you notice? Even though taking note of every aspect of the road or trail is impossible, sucking in our surroundings and not only air will aid and add to the run.
3. Accept don’t resist—Whether trail or road, accepting the run in itself has benefits. If you start the run with resistance, chances are that you will end in the same manner. Why not start the run knowing you are going to put on the miles, or hours, adding velocity to your daily routine. Accept that this run will make you stronger.
4. Keep flowing—On the run, we go up, under, over, around and in every other direction. We don’t rush through. Water is patient; it knows it will keep moving forward. When we are forced to slow down by fellow runners, running conditions or our own bodies, we keep flowing, patiently knowing that each foot fall is progress.