Personal safety on the trail: What to know, what to do, and how to carry yourself

Looking down the trail on Cupid Peak. Front Range, Colorado. Everyone should be able to enjoy trails like this, or the streets where they run, without fear of being harassed — or worse. Even so, there are things you can do to keep yourself safe.

NOTE: This is an adaptation of a piece I wrote for the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition a few weeks ago. While it bothers me that we must discuss these topics, it is also a reality. And for further reading, take a look at this article via Runner’s World.

One of the last things we want to think about on the trail is what we’d do if confronted with an unwelcome or hostile person. You’re out there for a run, a ride or a hike, looking for exercise or a retreat away from daily life. A confrontation is not on the agenda.

But the fact is this: The world has a lot of good people in it, but there are some bad ones, too. And sometimes they make their way to our trails.

How do you deal with a situation like this? Here are some ideas:

Keep your car clutter free

The less junk in your car you have to deal with, the quicker you can get on the trails and once done, get home. Most people are at their most vulnerable while fussing with the clutter that can pile up in your car. This is when you drop your guard. A great side effect to a clean car: If there is nothing in the car to steal, thieves tend to move on.

Hit the trail with a friend

The old cliché is that there is safety in numbers. But it’s also true. A person with bad intentions is much less likely to bother a group of people.

When you’re solo, be situationally aware

We love to lose ourselves in the moment when we’re in nature, but it’s wise to keep your eyes and ears open. Be aware of other people. That way you don’t get surprised.

Ditch the earbuds

Music and podcasts are great on a long ride or run, but the problem with that is you take one of your senses out of the picture. This is especially important on the trail, where you might not hear a bike coming behind you, or people around the bend. Earbuds even at a low volume put you at risk for an accidental collision with other trail users, and certainly leaves you more vulnerable to people with unsavory motives.

Be purposeful in your movement

You’ve got places to be, goals to achieve, a pace to keep. Show that. People are less likely to bother someone who is moving down the trail with a sense of purpose and confidence.

Bring your dog

If you have a dog that likes to run or hike trail with you, bring it along. The presence of a dog can be a good deterrent, especially if it’s a bigger dog.

Tell someone your plans

Before hitting the trail, let someone know where you’re going, your planned route, and how long you expect to be out there. That way there is a person out there who knows something could be wrong if you don’t check in.

Trust your instincts, and act accordingly

Listen to that prickly feeling on the back of your neck. If there are people on the trail who make you feel uneasy, reroute to an area that is more open or heavily trafficked. Then find your way back to a trailhead parking lot.

Bring your phone

A simple phone call or text could be vital to alerting friends or the authorities if something is amiss. You can use your smartphone camera to document unwanted interactions, which in turn can be used if the incident is one in which law enforcement needs to be called.

Consider personal protection

Plenty of hand-held devices like pepper spray exist that can be easily carried. Be familiar with how to use it and bring it with you.

If faced with a potential assailant, leave the area as quickly as possible

Make noise. Shout, yell for help, etc. If a physical confrontation is unavoidable, fight back. Strike at sensitive areas like the eyes, groin, nose and throat, using your fists, elbows and knees. You might be in the fight for your life, so there are no rules. An attacker will be more likely to give up if a potential victim becomes difficult to handle. Whatever the outcome, alert police as soon as you can, and be ready to give a description of the assailant, what happened and where.

THE FLIP SIDE OF THE COIN

All these ideas can help keep you safe. But it’s only one side of the coin. As a trail user, there are ways you should handle yourself to prevent the perception of being a threat. Some thoughts on that:

Let others do their thing

Remember that other trail users are there for a reason and might not be open to having their run, ride or hike interrupted, even if your intentions are benign.

A simple “hello,” a wave or a nod are good ways to acknowledge other trail users in an unobtrusive way.

If your greeting, wave or nod is not acknowledged, don’t make a thing of it.

Someone on a hard run or ride might be concentrating on the workout. Don’t take it as being disrespectful. Just move on and do your thing. If the person wants to reciprocate a greeting, they will. If they don’t, it’s their choice – and their right. Leave it be.

Be mindful of trail users who are solo

They may be less welcome to talking to people they don’t know on the trail. Give them their space.

And this should go without saying, but here it is: The trail is not a place to pick up dates.

Any amorous advances toward someone you don’t know on the trail very likely to be rejected and may be perceived as threatening. Save your game for more appropriate places; the trail isn’t it.

One last thing, just to wrap things up: There are remarkably few bad interactions and incidents occurring on our trail systems. But because people are involved, there is always the potential for bad actors to show up. Be aware of your surroundings and take the precautions you believe to be appropriate, and be mindful of how you might be perceived by others you meet.

Bob Doucette

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Fred Beckey’s embrace of ‘the process’: Lessons for climbing, running and life

Fred Beckey is seen at the right. His eight-decade career in climbing included first ascents of difficult mountains including Mount Deborah and Mount Hunter. His embracing of the difficulties of mountaineering and climbing has lessons for all of us. (Ray Borbon photo)

This past weekend, I watched a documentary called “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey.” Even though I’m not a regular climber, I’m a sucker for good climbing movies. It probably has to do something with all those mountains.

Anyway, there was one line in the movie in which an interview subject tries to answer a question about why Beckey put himself through so much hardship, right into his 90s, just to climb.

But first, a bit about Beckey: Before his death, he wrote numerous climbing guidebooks. Most notable first ascents in the Pacific Northwest are his. He eschewed a normal life and lived on the road, working a few odd jobs while driving to climbing sites, sleeping on the ground, and enduring some at-times heinous bushwhacks just to get to the wall or mountain he sought to climb.

And another bit about mountaineering: it’s hard. Damn hard. Suffering is part of the equation as you log miles underfoot with a beefy pack on your back, dodging storms, sleeping cold (if at all), testing your nerve and putting your body through rigors most people will never understand. Even the most basic ascents are hard work. Add some difficulty and it’s a wonder anyone climbs mountains at all. We use light-hearted euphemisms like “type 2 fun” and “sufferfest” to describe mountain climbs, but the pain involved can include serious illness, injury and death.

But going back to Beckey, and the quote about why he spent close to eight decades dedicated to the climb: The interviewee said above all else, even when it was clear he couldn’t do a lot of the climbs he planned anymore, Fred Beckey enjoyed the process.

“The process,” in case you don’t know, is the hardship. And if there is a key to enjoying climbing mountains, it is embracing the hardship so you can attain your goal. Otherwise, you’d never do it again.

The quote itself was a short aside, but it got me thinking, and not just about climbing mountains. “The process” is involved in so many things that are tough but ultimately worthwhile.

Right now, I’m a month into training for a half marathon, and as is the case every year, my goal isn’t just to finish. I want to finish faster than the year before.

The process is in two parts. Part 1 is the training schedule. The schedule includes how many miles I’m supposed to run on any given day, and what each workout should look like. Shorter runs are fine. Longer ones are a grind. Speed work is always difficult, and really, no fun at all. As the mileage increases week by week, the process hammers you anew each day with greater intensity.

Part 2 of the process involves the elements. I started building up my base in August and began the program in earnest in September. August was hot. Real hot. This September in Tulsa was the hottest since 1931, back in the Dust Bowl days. Nineteen days above 90 degrees, and with the humidity, heat indices were regularly in the 90s and 100s. Getting your long runs done in conditions like that flirts with demoralizing.

But there is also an excitement to doing it. When I got back from my ill-fated Colorado trip in July, I leaned in on conditioning. I found the hilliest routes around my home and ran in the heat. Putting together my training program was fun in a nerdy way. I knew those weekly speed workouts would suck, but I plugged them in anyway. And in the back of my mind, I realized that if I forced myself out the door, despite what the thermometer might say, all that heat training would make me faster. And probably tougher. By the time things cool off, I’m counting on a performance dividend because my past shows me that heat training works.

So my lungs burn on speed days, and my heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest. My brain boils on hot-weather runs that take a good 45 minutes from which to cool down. I feel like I could sleep 10 or more hours most days because of the toll the sun takes.

But that’s the process. Like Fred Beckey’s relentless pursuit of new lines on unclimbed peaks, success doesn’t just happen – some suffering must occur, a tempered-by-fire ritual of hours, days and weeks to reach that summit. Or in my case this fall, hopefully cross a finish line faster than last year.

In either case, it’s entirely personal. No one forces people to climb a mountain, and no one is putting a gun to my head to train for this race. But I think it’s healthy to test yourself. Pushing boundaries has a carryover into other areas of life. Learning to love the process, and all the highs and lows that it brings, is a worthy habit.

Bob Doucette

Switching things up for a new season

My master for the next 12 weeks.

The start of September tells me a couple of things.

First, it’s not really fall. Not here, not now. I’m looking at sunny skies, high temps in the mid- to upper-90s, and no sign of that alleged crisp cool air of autumn anytime soon. So that means I’ll be sweating plenty on any given run for at least a few more weeks, if not longer.

Second, it’s the beginning of the fall race season. I don’t race much in the spring or summer, because frankly, I don’t do fast when it’s hot. I like it cool to cold. But getting ready for longer races takes time, so training for those distances (a half marathon in this case) takes a little time.

I was stung a bit by my underwhelming performance in the Rockies back in July. My pride took a hit from not being able to manage even one alpine summit. Just the nudge I needed to jump on that fall schedule and get cracking.

It’s nerdy, but I really got into making up my training schedule. Figuring out distances, where to schedule races, and when that blessed taper week rolls around just before my goal race. I made a grid of sorts, with each day’s workout planned to the exact mile, and even included a weight training schedule with specific exercises to be performed. I’m experimenting with speed workouts. Basically throwing myself into this thing, temperatures be damned, because I don’t want the year to end having accomplished nothing.

I know I shouldn’t let a leisure activity define me. No one cares if I summited zero peaks this summer or a hundred. They don’t care about how fast or far I run, or how much I lift. But it still drives me. I suppose the things I do in my free time just matter to me more, at least internally. Goals are useful if they make you better in some way, either by achieving them or at least trying.

And maybe that’s the real value. I’ve met awesome people in the running community and on the trail. Some real bosses at the gym. People who inspire me, who teach me, who push me to do better and be a little more.

The only negative of the fall for me is that as I run more, I have to lift less. Again, no one else really cares about this, but I’ve been a gym rat for decades now, and strength training is a familiar discipline to me, a companion that has been as faithful as any other. I’ll still lift over these next 12 weeks, just not as much. That puts strength gains on hold for a bit.

I picked this up. It was heavy. 10/10 recommend.

But I did get a last hurrah in. While I’m not where I want to be, I’ve been able to load up the bar pretty good lately. A couple of buddies at the gym were doing their deadlifts and pulling some decent weight. It lit a fire under me.

So a few days later, I did the same. I warmed up, loaded the bar and did my lifts. I pulled a moderately heavy weight just fine. Then loaded it with what was, to that point, the heaviest deadlift I’d ever done, 350 pounds. It popped right up. So I added 20 more pounds, just to see if I could. Sure enough, after an initial grind, I stood with the bar in my hands, the rep complete. It wasn’t too far from twice my body weight. I’m not going to brag on a 370-pound deadlift – it’s OK, but not great. But it’s a PR for me. And a win during a year that’s been mostly devoid of them. It gave me a pick-me-up just as the fall race season ramps up.

The truth is I love this stuff. I bitch about running miles when it’s blazing hot, or walking funny after leg day. I cuss myself in the middle of some epic Type 2 fun. But I’m not getting any younger. Time is slipping away. I can still do hard things, and maybe get a little better, and it’s best to make hay when the sun’s still shining. Maybe by the end of the year I’ll have a few more in the win column. I’ll just have to keep grinding and see.

Bob Doucette

Some good and bad on my local trails

Hi Chi Trail, Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness, Tulsa.

Summer is about kaput, so my attention has been focused on my local trails. There has been some good and some bad news on that front.

The bad news is this: Some people just don’t understand that you can’t arbitrarily cut down trees on public lands because you don’t like where they’ve been growing.

There is a section of trail on Turkey Mountain called Tree Hugger that gets its name from a skinny passage between two maturing trees that have grown by each other right on the side of the trail. In the past, I’ve likened them to the ski gates you see on slalom courses. It’s not a problem for runners or hikers, but if you’re on your bike, it’s a tight fit between the trees. If you’re not confident enough on your bike to slow it down for a more careful passage — or if you’re too prideful to get off your bike and walk it through — Tree Hugger’s namesake feature might seem like a bit of a hassle.

But you can’t blame the trees for growing where their seed landed, and in any trail user etiquette, it’s bad form to remove rocks, cut roots or hack down trees simply to make your journey a little easier. It’s unsporting, and more importantly, extremely bad ecology.

Well, some jackwagon decided to cut down one of the trees.

I’m not sure who took this photo, but it’s not the person who cut the tree. We also don’t know who felled the tree.

My guess is this person came in at night (or some other time when no one would be there) and cut the tree down, simply so bike passage would be easier.

I won’t mince words. This is the kind of person who rides trails when they’re waterlogged, paying no mind to the damage that causes. Probably the type who never goes to a cleanup day, or a trail work day. A rider of limited ability who is all about “freedom” but absent the concept of responsibility that freedom infers.

The tree is gone, and there’s no repairing the damage. So I’ll put this out there…

Only the landowner has the right to use power tools or cut down trees at Turkey Mountain, and that landowner is the River Parks Authority. Anyone else who wishes to do so needs RPA permission. Otherwise, it’s vandalism and punishable as a crime.

RUNNING WITH THE TOTS

On to the good. I took last week off work, but didn’t go anywhere. I stayed home, and got to do a lot of things I don’t normally get to do because I’m at work.

Something I used to do was run trails with a weekly run group on Tuesday nights. They’ve long been known as the TOTS (Training on Turkey). Well, I work nights. So I haven’t been able to run with this crew for years. I finally got that chance this week.

Well, sort of. I got there late, so I missed everyone hitting the trail. I ran my own route, then met up with the gang at the trailhead when it was over. Most of these folks are new to me — it’s been a few years, ya know. So I spent some time introducing myself to people.

This is what some Tulsa trail runners do for fun after a group run: Compete to see who can get the best crushed can. (Kia Shebert-Smith photo)

Back in the day, we all headed to a taco joint when it was over and shot the breeze. That tradition has changed. Now, it’s simpler — sharing beers at the trailhead. When it’s time to go, everyone crushes their cans, and a contest is held. The can that’s most perfectly crushed wins. The prize? Bragging rights, and a mention on a blog managed by a gal who has taken the responsibility for shepherding the run group.

It’s a fun, laid-back group with runners who are faster and more accomplished than me. I’m used to that. As it turns out, a few of these folks have a thing for hiking Colorado’s 14ers, One of those guys is headed to Colorado as I write this to take a stab at some of the giants in the Sawatch Range. Hey, anytime I get to talk mountains with people is a good time.

The group has changed, but some things stay the same. People gather because they love trail running. They dig Turkey Mountain. They enjoy exploring the Rockies. It may be awhile before I get to rejoin these runners again, but it’s good to know that there’s still a chill group of runners having some fun together while getting their miles.

Bob Doucette

The silver linings of failure

There are silver linings in those clouds.

One of the challenges of living in the middle of the country is that my opportunities to go to the places I love – namely, the mountains – are far fewer than I’d like. I envy my friends in western states where mountain adventures can be had in the span of a day trip, or maybe a few hours by car for multi-day outings.

For me, it’s planned weeks and months in advance, saving up money, getting time off from work approved, and all the logistical challenges that come with it. Being from a lower elevation doesn’t help my cause when I get there. In any case, I have to make the most of things when I finally get away.

And I guess that’s what irks me about my last trip, that it ended a mere 800 vertical feet from a lone summit on what was otherwise a perfect day in the mountains. The weather, the route conditions, pretty much objective variable out there, was in my favor. And yet I got stopped short because the one thing I didn’t do – prepare well enough physically – bit me in the ass.

A return trip this year was out. Too many car repair bills, not enough cash flow. Middle class ain’t what it used to be. So this failure gets to stick in my craw for a while, maybe as much as a year.

I suppose there are plenty of adventures to be had close to home. But summer in the Southern Plains is not that inviting. Blazing hot temps, high humidity and plenty of bugs. There’s no cool of the alpine air to which I can escape, no splashing in an ocean nearby. Just hundreds of miles of baking earth in the Sun Belt.

I got home a little ticked off. It was great to see friends and family, and really, any time in the mountains is worthwhile, even if it’s hard, uncomfortable, or ultimately leads to less than what was planned. I spent four hours driving from my campsite to civilization, and another 10 hours from Denver to home. Plenty of time to think about the whole mess.

And therein lies the silver lining. I knew my conditioning wasn’t up to snuff. I could do something about that. So as soon as I got back, I got to work. And worked harder. More miles on the road. Bigger effort in the gym. Getting outside in the heat and tackling it head-on. I sucked on the trail, so I was going to make myself pay for it now so I wouldn’t suck later.

In about two weeks, I’ll be starting a training cycle for fall races. Looking back on the last few weeks, and the improvements I’ve already seen, I may just enter that 12-week cycle better prepared than I have in years. Which means come November, I might not suck at all.

So there it is. Failing to plan begets failure in execution. But failure in execution can be a great motivator for the tasks to come.

Bob Doucette

Tulsa’s triathlon win: IRONMAN picks T-town for three-year deal, and here’s why

Cyclists race by as crowds cheer – and drink- at the Riverside Criterium of Tulsa Tough on Cry Baby Hill. The success of events like Tulsa Tough is likely one of the reasons IRONMAN picked Tulsa to host its Midwestern race.

When I moved to Tulsa eight years ago, the city surprised me. I was more or less expecting all the stereotypes that go with a metropolitan area smack in the middle of stroke alley: it would be flat, hot, and not much going on in terms of fitness or outdoor recreation.

I was proven wrong. It’s not that my city or state is the healthiest place on the planet, but as it turns out, there’s an active cycling community here, a bunch of road and trail runners and loads of events catering to these crowds that have only grown over time.

So I found myself surprised, yet not that surprised, when the organizers of the IRONMAN triathlon series announced that Tulsa would be the site of its next three Midwestern races.

WHY TULSA

IRONMAN, if you don’t know, is the lead dog when it comes to triathlons. The race includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon road race. The two biggies include one race in Florida, and the premier triathlon event held annually in Kona, Hawaii. IRONMAN has sought to stage races elsewhere in the country and settled on Tulsa as that place.

I was surprised, mostly because of that whole stroke alley image Oklahoma has. We’re talking about one of the most high-profile endurance sports events anywhere is doing its thing right here in T-town. I’m not saying big stuff doesn’t happen here, but when it comes to endurance sports, this is big. Real big.

But why I’m not that surprised takes a little explaining.

As I said, Tulsa has some active endurance sports communities. Folks love their bikes. They love their mountain bikes, too. And both are used frequently inside our city limits and in nearby communities.

The city hosts Tulsa Tough, a three-day racing event that started out as a hopeful endeavor on the cycling circuit that has grown into a must-stop race for cyclists nationally. Upwards of 10,000 people show up to watch that last day’s race (and party a lot) every year now. That kind of support probably meant something to the IRONMAN crew.

In long-distance running, the Route 66 Marathon started out modestly and has grown into one of the finer marathon and half marathon events in the country. People from every state and several countries run in it every year, and it grows yearly. The Tulsa Run, the city’s venerable 15K road race, has been the USTAF Masters 15K championship race for a few years now. And the city hosts another marathon in the spring (Golden Driller) plus numerous other half marathon, marathon and ultramarathon races on both road and trail.

Open water swimming may not be big here, but northeastern Oklahoma has no shortage of lakes, with a big one – Lake Keystone – conveniently within riding distance for all those IRONMAN competitors.

All of these things, plus the amenities the city offers visitors (I had one guy from Texas tell me that Tulsa is being talked about as “the next Austin”) provided just the right mix. In that vein, I can see what IRONMAN chose my city.

BIGGER PICTURE

One thing I’ve told people is that Tulsa is underrated in terms of outdoor recreation. The city’s road and dirt bike paths are plentiful, and we even have some local crags for bouldering enthusiasts. I joked that Outdoor Retailer should have given the city a look back when it was looking for a new home.

But on a more serious note, consider this: There is a nexus between endurance sports and outdoor recreation. Many runners, cyclists and triathletes are also people who enjoy other outdoor activities. Trail runners in particular end up crossing paths with hikers, backpackers and mountaineers. Killian Jornet comes to mind as the most famous of them, but beyond the elites, there are legions of people who, when they’re not racing or training, are making the most of their time outdoors.

The city and the state are in the midst of a big tourism push, focusing in things to do and places to see along Route 66 — the Mother Road of old that stretched from Chicago to California and winds its way through Oklahoma. It’s a good theme, and I’m sure a lot of cities and towns will be able to take advantage of this.

But what I’d say is don’t sleep on the state’s outdoor recreation potential. People are interested in this stuff. The cycling community is active statewide. Trail running is booming, and road running is strong. The same people who run in the Route 66 Marathon, ride in Tulsa Tough or await their shot at IRONMAN will be looking around the state for other ways to get their outdoor fix, which includes plenty of hiking, backpacking, water sports and climbing. The folks looking for such activities include people from outside the state.

IRONMAN gives the city and the state another opportunity to keep that outdoor recreation momentum moving. Frankly, it’s low-hanging fruit and an opportunity to help the region shed its stroke alley reputation. Tell your story. Go get it. If you do, don’t be surprised if the city and the state cash in on another big win.

Bob Doucette

An appreciation of running: Five ways running has helped me

Ten years ago, I could never have imagined me doing this. So glad I have.

This week gave us Global Running Day. Or International Running Day. Or National Running day. Well, one of those three. I’m pretty sure all three had a hashtag or something, but in any case, it was a day for runners everywhere to say how much they loved it, take a post-run selfie and stick it on the ‘Gram.

I joined the crowd by tweeting/IG’ing a few old race photos, then going out for four hot, humid and hilly miles. Call me a sucker for a trend.

I also read some folks’ thoughts on the day — they varied from “well, every day is a run day” to “they’re just making up a day to sell more shoes” to the more typical “running has changed my life!” messages.

For me, every day is not a run day, and I didn’t buy any shoes or gear. But it did get me thinking about the past nine years, a span in which I picked the habit back up and stuck with it. And I asked myself, “Well, what has running done for me?”

Something to be said for being fit and having fun.

Obviously, I benefited in terms of fitness. Before I started running again, I kept in shape by lifting weights and playing basketball several times a week. I still lift, and I love basketball. But the latter is not something I can do long-term for much longer. It can be rough on the body. So I started running and found different kinds of fitness. Running helped me lose weight, improved my aerobic capacity and showed me new ways to get in shape. Here’s another fun nuance: Learning different kinds of running — long distance, shorter distance, and sprinting — put more tools in my fitness toolbox. I’ll take that!

A whole other level of toughness is needed if you’re going to run for hours at a time. (Clint Green photo)

Running made me mentally tougher. Competing in sports — team sports, combat sports or whatnot — can build mental tenacity. But running does it in a different way. For most of us (the non-elite runners), the competition is with ourselves. Training for a marathon demands toughness. Want to run a 5K as fast as you can? That race will test your will in ways you won’t expect. In either case, the training and the racing tested my limits. Discomfort hangs over you. So does pain. And the nagging voice in the back of your head that tells you to quit. Overcome those things and you will emerge a tougher person.

Running gets me outside, regardless of conditions. And it’s mostly been good.

Running got me outside more. I’m not a treadmill runner. I’ll do it if I have to, but most of the time I’m outside running the streets or kicking up dirt on the trails. Being outside on foot helped me get to know my community better. It got me into the woods, over the hills and into new places I’d never have seen in a gym, on a court or sitting on the couch. I’ve seen, heard and smelled things that will stick with me for as long as I have memory — the sweet scents of spring flowers, the cry of a bald eagle, the swoop of an owl bearing down on its prey. And so much more.

Just a few of the people I grew to know through running. Good folks, y’all.

I met some awesome people through running. One of the smartest things I did when I moved to a new town was joining a trail running group. I also got involved in a run group through my local YMCA. They greatly expanded the number of people I consider friends. One guy is the dean of Tulsa-area trail running. Another is a dude who went on a road trip with me to go backpacking and climbing a couple of peaks. I have two running friends doing big though-hikes — one on the Appalachian Trail, another on the Pacific Crest Trail. This new group of friends got me involved in preserving our local trail running hot spot, which in turn allowed me to befriend folks from other outdoor circles. Without running, I’d know none of these people and would have been poorer for it.

Here is one of the places I can work through the challenges life throws at me.

Running helps quiet my mind. Look, man. Everyone’s got problems. I don’t know anyone who’s lived such a charmed life that they can say they’ve never dealt with some sort of hardship or hurt. But there are events of loss, pain, anger and sadness that can pile up and overwhelm you. Especially if they pile up all at once. That’s where running came along at just the right time. The meditative rhythm of footfalls, the time spent unplugged, the miles in which you could empty your mind, pray, or otherwise work things out — that’s the stuff that helped me deal with difficult times. My life ain’t any harder than most of yours. But it sure would feel harder if not for the miles and hours I spent pounding pavement and devouring trail.

So that’s what went through my head this week, all prompted by that goofy little hashtag. What about you? Holler at me. How has running helped you?

Bob Doucette