Lessons learned from a habitual outdoor runner

Tag: adventure

Snow down, fall down, slow down

screenshot from 2019-01-12 10-12-42The first significant snow of the season began overnight. In town, there were about 2-3 inches when I started the morning run. We knew it was coming so I knew I’d have to be mentally prepared for the conditions.

The plows had been through the town streets a few times since it began, so the roads had less standing inches but were messy and spotty where it was hard to determine what was an ice chunk or a soft snow pile. I decided to run into the wind and blowing snow as I started out so as to get a better vantage point of the weather out in the fields.

Just a few houses down from mine I hit a patch of ice beneath the plowed snow and down I went. While it only takes fractions of seconds to fall, I could hear the UGH! coming out of my mouth before I hit the ground. I landed primarily on the right-glute and right arm. Covered with snow and wondering what is going to hurt later, I get up in a slow trot and scan to see if everything is functional. Tender, but no broken things and no major complaints, I continue the trek east into the blowing snow.

The first mile facing the wind there were some vehicle tracks to follow through the unplowed county road, I decided to head south at the next option, again using the vehicle tracks as a break from the deeper snow. The mile ahead I could see a snow plow heading toward me, and I’m guessing the driver thought “what a nut-job” as we passed. At least that mile provided some options without a few inches of loose snow.

Sadly, the next mile was unplowed and even deeper with snow as the wind was creating drifts that were probably 6-8 inches deep in places, yet onward is the goal. Turning right toward the west the wind was at my back which was a nice relief from the snow hitting my face, but the snow was deeper! I did find an occasional vehicle track which dropped the depth back in the 2-3 inch range and was easier to drive forward, the other issue with snowy conditions like that is you cannot see the surface well as everything is definitionless white.

The first mile heading north was a better road as it was a higher road making the east side of it safer as the snow was being blown to the west side. The 2nd and 3rd miles north had been plowed and were easier to navigate while anticipating slippery surfaces.

My average mile time was 9:48 at the end of this which I didn’t think was bad considering the fall and the tight-n-short stride I had to use to be more cautious, plus running in the deeper snow requires a higher leg lift and slower pace.

Hey, it’s winter in the midwest, like-it or leave-it. I like variety, so this works for me and helps me appreciate the times when I have better surfaces to run on.

Southern Indiana: No straight roads

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In Central Illinois the roads are grids, most of the property layout is in one-mile squares. Running in Southern Indiana, it’s hard to find a straight path! It begs the question: Did they just pave the old horse trails? Even US HWY 150 between Shoals and West Baden has so many twists you may need Dramamine. It could be fun on a motorcycle!

The map above is one of the routes I’ve established for my 8-9 mile daily run. It’s quiet and beautiful country through the woods, farms, cottages, and fields. Very little traffic and an occasional horse or Amish vehicle can be seen. Actually, the Amish wheels and horseshoes do make enough noise on the quiet country pavement to hear them coming about the same distance as a motorized vehicle.

If I have to identify a few obstacles, they would be dogs and hills, with dogs really being the obstacle, the hills are exercise-variety.

Being able to break from the daily routine routes is motivational. Regardless of straight grids, hills or country twists and turns, I am grateful to be able to experience the outdoors while running!

Cemetery Runs

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It may seem odd to some, but I like running through cemeteries. I find them peaceful and reflective.

I cannot read most of the headstones as I run past in the dim light of the early morn. Yet, the solitude is thought-provoking. No matter what my days have been of late, I’m reminded that I’m on this side of the sod with opportunities galore. I am grateful for the blessing of being able to run through the final resting place of so many.

I wonder about the lives once lived now represented by a stone marker. I see the flags on certain holidays and know someone served their country, I observe the flowers or solar-lights placed by someone who remembers “when.” Regardless of sons or daughters, mothers or fathers, farmers or factory workers, old or young, I am thankful for those who had gone before us and did their part in the world in their time.

As I exit the cemetery and enter back into the land of the living, I am grateful and blessed to run another day.

Mississippi River Run


I spent the weekend in the Quad Cities area of Illinois and explored a few running routes along the Mississippi River each morning. The weather was cold and wet which makes exploring new routes a little more challenging.


I do enjoy the exploration even if it can be a little intimidating when you don’t know the surroundings very well. The fresh snow covering the path added to the difficulty.

I commend the city of Moline for having these dedicated trails that appear to be well maintained except for some snow removal on the low-traffic portions.

Running along the river did remind me of the few times I’ve found routes along the Mississippi in the Memphis area. The river is a little bit narrower on the Northwest side of Illinois than it is a few hundred miles south in Tennessee.


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