Canadian Running

Crossing the Line

I Had an Affair and It Made Me a Better Runner

- 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 runtrailsw­

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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