Running and Hiking: Lessons Learned

By Susan S. Paul, MS Training Program Director for Track Shack Fitness Club

When I’m not running, I’m usually hiking. The two sports are mutually beneficial. For example, my years of running helped condition me for the physical and mental challenges of hiking, while my hiking experiences introduced me to two important hiking community philosophies’; philosophies I believe would also benefit the running community: HYOH and LNT.

Hike Your Own Hike: HYOH

Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) is a phrase constantly encountered in hiking. Read any article, book, or social media post about hiking and you will likely see it – HYOH. It’s used so often it’s become a salutation; a way to say hello or good-bye to fellow hikers. Hike Your Own Hike means exactly that; hike your own way, your own pace, your distance, through hike or section hike, overnight or day hike, slackpack or backpack, blue blaze, yellow blaze, or white blaze; do whatever works for you, no judgement. What??!! No judgement??!! The beauty of this philosophy lies in no judgement.

Runners would do well to adopt a Run Your Own Run philosophy. Too often runners negatively compare themselves to other runners. We compare weekly mileage, run pace, race history, race results, and even injuries. We use our running logs to beat ourselves up about perceived short comings rather than to track our training. How often have you felt you were having a good run, the miles clicking by; then someone passes you and the negative thoughts creep into your mind. “Why can’t I run that fast? Why am I not fitter? Why am I not thinner?” Or you see a post on social media about someone’s run and all of a sudden, your run isn’t good enough. Your run goes from making you feel good about yourself to making you feel badly. You think, “I’m so slow. What I do isn’t even running.” Judgement! The problem with judgement is the unspoken implication of if your run doesn’t measure up, maybe you don’t measure up. If your running isn’t worth “it”, maybe you aren’t worth “it”….whatever “it” is. Which of course, is not true! 

Like hikers, runners should embrace a Run Your Own Run philosophy and stop this negative thinking. Stop judging others and stop judging yourself. Find inspiration and motivation from your fellow runners, yes, but don’t fall prey to unrealistic expectations and comparisons. Find your reasons, your motivation for running and then run! You are worth it, and your running does matter! RYOR!

Leave No Trace: LNT

Leave No Trace (LNT) is another hiking philosophy runners should adopt. It means leave no evidence you were there and leave the area cleaner than you found it. There are several concepts that make up the LNT principals, but the main one is to pick up all your trash and food and anything someone else may have left behind. If it was packed in, pack it out.

The biggest environmental impact runners have on an area is the trash we leave behind. Cups, water bottles, food wrappers, empty gel packets, etc., often line the roads or trails we run; whether dropped intentionally or not, we leave a mess behind us. We need to be more aware of the waste we produce and be better about picking up after ourselves. One way to do this is to carry a re-usable hydration system on your runs. It is easy to carry and it stops the use of one-use plastic bottles and cups. While races usually have volunteers who clean up after us, we should still reduce the amount of waste we produce. Some races have gone cupless and provide runners with a re-usable cup to carry with them. There’s a really good blog on TrackShack.com about how we as runners and walkers can reduce our environmental impact. Check it out!

We need to be more aware of the waste we produce and be better about picking up after ourselves.

The City of Orlando has officially banned single use plastics and polystyrenes on city owned and operated spaces like the Amway Center and Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and we can expect to see other cities follow suit going forward. This ban includes plastic bags, plastic straws and utensils, and Styrofoam ice chests and cups. We can contribute to the City’s Sustainability Action Plan by applying the Leave No Trace principal to our sport. One person can make a difference on the global environmental problem by taking personal action to adopt a greener lifestyle. Reducing your waste may not seem like much, but as Mother Theresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Let’s create some ripples!

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