Whenever I mention to people that I spend my days running mountains, they tend to look shocked, exclaim that they could never do anything similar and ultimately change the topic. The surprise might be justifiable, but I would like to tell you that the fear is not. I would like to share my short story on how I fell into mountain and distance running, and how in a matter of just a few months, I learned about mountain running philosophy, and how to approach it with ease and peace.
First, I did not grow up doing this. To me it feels like I have been running mountains since I was a child through the books about Native Americans, but in reality, it was only since an early morning of March of 2015 that I ever tried exploring hills and forests through running. It all started with a pair of trail running shoes I bought – Salomon Speedcross 3 CS. I thought I will give them a try on a local mountain biking trail. The running shoes were amazing – I could run down steep mud and not slide at all! All those features that make mountain biking fun, made my run purely euphoric. I was hooked.
I slowly started trail running and training for uphills. The first runs, I could barely run uphill for more than a minute. As the weeks passed I learned to save energy, breath efficiently, found a pace, I could sustain for long times. I found joy and escape in the effort I was putting and peaceful reward in my hemp protein recovery smoothies.
Very soon, as I got stronger, I started exploring longer trails, and signed up for a few races. I bought my first running hydration pack, and it seemed like a new world of opportunities has unfolded – I could now go on long runs and not worry about getting cold or thirsty. Salomon hydration packs are just perfect; I have a few of them already. All of them, including the largest 17L one I have, adheres perfectly to my back without obstructing breathing or affecting running motion.
I started spending long days in the mountains on my own – running, hiking, scrambling. I did it all, and I did it for hours. I ordered my first GPS watch – Suunto Ambit2, and my fear of getting lost was gone. I was now ready to do this for real – be free in the mountains. I learned quickly that I DO NOT have to run ALL the time. I am allowed to walk and enjoy. I am allowed to stop for food, water and picture breaks.
I went for a run with an experienced runner I met and he showed me a completely new way of doing things. Miles brought home-made muffins and chocolate and a camera, and we ran around 40 km through mountains – my longest mountain ever enjoying beautiful surroundings taking about mountains and just having fun.
That was the turning point for me. Running could just be a way of interacting with mountains ! Fast way to move across the landscapes and see beauty. I now always pack my small sketchbook, enough food to last a day, emergency gear and some layers, and spend a long day just playing with the world around me.
Running is a form of being; and it does not have to be forced or super hard … you choose, how much you want to push, but you can choose for it to always be fun.
I am currently getting ready for a running trip in Peruvian Andes, and I am definitely packing my camera in ;)