Whether I’m out training or just running in the mountains, I often repeat myself to “Be Present”. I watch the lines of the distant landscape and peaks. I soak in the colors and the textures for each season. For me it’s not about just the run, it’s about bringing that experience home in all forms and sharing it with those around me.

I found trail running and racing a little later in life. Although I’ve “been a runner” since high school, I’ve always just run on the roads to get out my wiggles or to stay in physical shape. Races weren’t ever a thing for me, and I just enjoyed being out and having some diversion in my daily routines.

After having my second son, my hubby would share with me his running adventures in the mountains and encourage me to think about getting out there too. I was intrigued by what he would see and where his feet would take him. I just couldn’t ever believe that it was something that I could do. What about the hobos? Aren’t there wild animals out there? What happens if I get lost or hurt?

I was very much inspired by women in my community who were out trail running and were confident and thriving out in nature. Secretly, I leaned on their strength to overcome my fears. For almost a year, I would run from my house to a nearby trail called Birdsong. I ran the rolling hills to the junction of that trail, turned around and went back to the road all the way back to my front door. That was four glorious miles! Of the four miles, 1.5 of that was TRAIL RUNNING! I was doing it!!! Those fears and answers to my questions slowly grew silent the more I was out there.

It was during those early mornings on my little route feeling brave and satisfied that I would pause, take some deep breaths (sometimes for courage) and Be Present in those moments. I watched that small patch of dirt ribbon change with the seasons that year. I saw and learned so many basic things. The sun noticeably would change its position in the sky and the water sources and critters would vary too.

It may have taken a little while, but all these early experiences falling in love with trail running all started by being present. Where at first memorizing the details and things I would see on my run was almost a defense mechanism, it now had become a power source. One that I could draw on in times of struggle, fear or sadness. Being present had taught me that I was stronger than I knew I was capable of. Knowing this has carried me through difficult experience though the years and also has allowed me joy beyond comparison.

When I find myself getting “too caught up” in training for my next race, bored because a trail is closed or the weather has limited accessibility, or maybe somedays I just question what in the world I’m doing out there running around in a blizzard, the dark, or hot summer sun, I remember that I GET to do this. When you stop taking the joy out of what you’re doing and replace it with obligation, I believe you begin to lose focus on the real reason you’re out there. Being present to me is everything and the true reason why I will always seek to Run My Own Trail.

Written by Tara Warren as part of the #RunYourOwnTrail series

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