If you’ve had a rough day and need a little break from your own brain I’ve discovered the solution…go get muddy! Yes! Muddy! Stop pouting, pull on your big girl running shorts, lace up those shoes and get your tookus outside! If you’re a runner leave the GPS behind. If you’re a photographer leave the fancy camera behind. If you’re a hiker leave the pack behind. Just leave it all on the kitchen table or in the passenger seat of your car and let your inner child play for a bit.
Seriously, it works! My Tuesday is proof! I had a long day, which is ironic because I left work at 2pm…but the rest of my day dragged on with ridiculous traffic, less than stellar news from the eye doctor, crowded trails and cancelled plans. Needless to say, by 7pm I was frustrated and grumpy. Really frustrated. Like, frustrated enough for a full-blown teary melt down because I left my water bottle lid loose and it leaked onto my car seat. Yea…it’s okay, you can judge me, I was judging me…
Eventually I pulled myself together, pulled my stinky socks + shoes back on and headed back onto the trails. The sun was setting and the usually crowded Chautauqua trails were emptying out so I set off in a new-to-me direction and just ran uphill. The climb wasn’t easy on my lungs but my legs were happy. I looped my way along random trails and when things got muddy did my best to avoid the puddles…until that one time I missed. One foot was soaking wet, the other leg was splattered in mud.
That was the moment, the moment when everything changed. It is the moment when you let go and just give into the cold, wet mud and start seeking out the biggest puddles to amplify your splash radius. It’s really more of a “mud moment” and it makes everything more fun!
I know this moment well and I distinctly remember the first time I experienced the mud moment – I was running the Living History Farm 7 Mile cross-country race with my cousin and spent the first mile or so avoiding mud. Then boom, the patch of grass was a ruse and my foot sunk into wet, sticky mud. A few steps later I was splashing through a muddy field and way too excited for a frigid stream crossing. I remember yelling back to my still clean cousin “just commit to the mud!”…I was having a blast.
I also remember when the mud moment took over while hiking in Torres del Paine last month. We were hiking uphill in the drizzling rain as we rock hopped + tip toed around the puddles without much chatter between Logan and I. Less than a mile into our hike we came upon a stream crossing that required wet feet and a slick, muddy river bank. We stared at the stream for a while then plunged in and scrambled up the mud. Almost immediately we were chatting and splashing through the puddles. Heck, we sought out puddles just because we were already wet and they were fun!
As for my Tuesday? I spent the next mile or so splashing, slipping and sliding down the trail with flailing arm, terrible running form and the stupidest grin on my face. Screw traffic and eye doctors and annoying people, I was happy and I was having fun! Just as I was connecting to the main Chautauqua trail I spotted a four-legged critter trotting up the trail. A dog sans-owner? Nope, a fox with no fear! He loped within four feet of me then wandered into the woods, barely noticing my existence.
By the time I got back to my car I had muddy water caked to my calves, wet socks, mud covered shoes and a much calmer take on life. Getting muddy was worth it. Sure, it may have made me a bit less presentable when I finally got around to going out for dinner but it was worth it!
Spoiler: If you’re coming to the Blend Retreat in Boulder in a few weeks…this is what you’ll see on the Friday afternoon trail run I’m leading! If you’re not a trail runner [and definitely if you’re not a runner at all] don’t fret! The route we’re taking at Blend will not be very technical and I promise you, if you can walk you can enjoy this run! And there will definitely be a run-walk option…that is the beauty of the trails, you can always just become a hiker and no one knows! Get excited…I know I am! Plus, the run is sponsored by General Mills which means CEREAL!
**Always respect the basic Leave No Trace principles, especially on muddy trails!**