Cross­ing the Line

I Had an Af­fair and It Made Me a Bet­ter Run­ner

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - By Jen­nifer Faraone Jen­nifer Faraone is an avid trail run­ner and coach in Toronto. She holds clin­ics and camps, giv­ing run­ners the op­por­tu­nity to flirt with the trails. Visit run­trail­swith­

My af­fair started in­no­cently enough, as a re­sult of my first 5 Peaks trail race. I had en­tered the event on the sugges­tion of a run­ning buddy, de­spite my lim­ited off-road ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m not sure if I was look­ing for a change from my reg­u­lar rou­tine or a way to es­cape the in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment of the road rac­ing scene, but ei­ther way, I was on board for a new ex­pe­ri­ence. I cau­tiously toed the start line, eye­ing my fel­low rac­ers and look­ing for a fa­mil­iar face.

The at­trac­tion I felt dur­ing the race was al­most in­stan­ta­neous. I was ex­cited, filled with de­sire and pas­sion all over again. Feel­ings that were sup­pressed since the birth of my chil­dren sud­denly resur­faced. Maybe it was the lure of the un­known, the thrill of the chase, or the in­abil­ity to re­sist that musky, woodsy scent that I was first at­tracted to. What­ever the rea­son, I was head-over-heels in love – with trail run­ning.

At first, I felt guilty for not fo­cus­ing on my first love, road run­ning. Af­ter all, it had been my pri­mary part­ner for many years and was part of my iden­tity. Im­prov­ing my per­for­mance on the road was my fo­cus year af­ter year. I now felt like I was cheat­ing on old faith­ful and owed road run­ning an ex­pla­na­tion for why I was spend­ing so much time with another. Was I go­ing through mid-life cri­sis? Was I self­ish for want­ing to be ex­clu­sive with trail run­ning? Look­ing back, I re­al­ized that my heart was no longer in road run­ning. It no longer pro­vided the same sat­is­fac­tion; it didn’t get my juices f low­ing – and it no longer in­spired me to train harder. I had lost my mojo for rac­ing.

The trail run­ning com­mu­nity and the over­all vibe was so dif­fer­ent from the road. The peo­ple were friend­lier; the course was much more stim­u­lat­ing; and the run­ning was more ex­hil­a­rat­ing. I was in­spired to run again, and I craved more of it. I wanted to train again and push my­self to new lim­its. I felt alive and loved run­ning again with a pur­pose. I owed this re­newed pas­sion to my new com­pan­ion and train­ing part­ner, trail run­ning. The years have since past, and I’m still madly in love with trail run­ning. I guess you can say I found “the one.” So my rec­om­men­da­tion to you is to go have your own run­ning af­fair. Fo­cus on a dif­fer­ent type of run or dis­tance. Play around with a new form of crosstrain­ing. In­cor­po­rate some type of change into your rou­tine that will get your juices f low­ing, your heart rate el­e­vated and will in­spire you to do more. Not only will this make you feel won­der­ful, but it will likely make you a stronger and more pas­sion­ate ath­lete.

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