Running off the dirt

trail running in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Day #68 – Sometimes we must run the dirt off of our soles…

by Patrick Reed

Have you seen that sign recently? Trail Closed. What do you do??

Last week, I encountered that sign as I pulled up to one of my favorite trail heads. I must be a newbie to this California running because I hadn’t come across such a sign back east — except for when some huge erosion made portions of a trail quite treacherous. This trail was shut down due to muddy conditions. The soft rain of the morning had left muddy footings for runners and bikers, and so the way was barricaded to preserve the integrity of the trail.

trail closed

Being a neophyte – at least to this concept – I didn’t turn back, but instead hopped into what I hoped would be a great adventure. I got my money’s worth, and thankfully ran into no park ranger who might have taken some of it back.

A mile in I had clods the size and shape of snowshoes clinging to my shoes. Now and then a big chunk of mud would kick off sideways as I tried to keep a cadence on the slippery mud. Then I would run on the grassy shoulder and try to drag the mud to scrape it off in mid-stride. Didn’t work so well. Before I knew it I was gallomphing awkwardly around turns, swimming and slipping through dips in the trail and skipping heavily over cattle guards. It wasn’t pretty, and I suddenly understood the deeper meaning of those signs.

And so it happened that tonight, a week later, having found those mud-caked shoes stashed in the back of our mini-van and covered with the sweatshirt I ran in that day, I decided it was time to run the mud-clods off of those trainers. To get them back in presentable order. Back into the rotation. And maybe back into the house, itself?!

I laced up the now-dried, mud-encrusted shoes and was off onto the streets to bang some sense into those mischievous soles. It took no time at all before the mud-icing broke away and all of the clunkiness subsided and the shoes began to purr with the normal balance of the run. For a fleeting moment I was quite thankful for the asphalt avenues which doubled nicely as washboards today.

It seems that we amass all sorts of stuff in this running life: heavy hearts, lopsided burdens, awkward habits, drifting ambitions, slippery motives and muddy perspectives. Was it because we dared to run where we should not have that we gained all of this grief? Was it because we faced fearlessly the day bathed in showers? Is there such a day – or such a weather – which will dissuade the determined soul?

“The heaviness we bear

– because we dared it –

is so easily digested

in the discipline of the daily run.”

Clean your shoes. And if necessary, use soap.

~Coach Patrick

PS – A Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!!

muddy shoes 2

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