The Perfect Run

Frost crunched under my feet, and I dodged my way around rocks and navigated the deep layer of fallen leaves during my descent into a valley. The thrill of gravity increasing my speed and the fear of slipping and eating it combined in the best way. The air in my lungs was the kind of cold you get after heavy rain, and I could almost taste each inhale. On this new-to-me trail, back in November, I experienced The Perfect Run.

My mind and body conspired to make each stride feel weightless. I was fully invested in the story burbling out of my earbuds, and the bright reds, oranges, and yellows in the tunnels of trees blurred delightfully together. It’s the kind of elevation you experience after leaving a great new movie at the theatre. After a peek at my watch to pause to munch on my electrolytes and gulp water, I didn’t even care about my pace.

I’m currently training for a half-marathon held in January, and confession time: my investment in this plan is pure trash. As the miles in the plan increase and the temperature drops, all I want to do is make like a bear until Spring. Today was my first 6-mile day in months, and I was bored with all my route options. I remembered that a friend has a trail that runs near their house, and figured that if I was going to be miserable, it might as well be new misery. My husband asked me a second time as he dropped me by my starting point if I was sure (it was still sprinkling), and I began my grumpy plod.


The trail I chose routes itself behind houses, weaves into other paths, and detours through parks. It’s not by any means a “nature trail,” but it serves the job of breaking up the monotony of concrete. After a while, I realized how alone I was, occasionally hearing a dog in someone’s yard, or glimpsing some squirrels, but otherwise seeing and hearing no one (not even seeing a car go by as I crisscrossed several small streets). My feet began to guide themselves into a comfortable memorized pattern, and the sky broke. 

I’m convinced that this morning is the best antidote to SAD (seasonal affective disorder). We should bottle that up and pass it around instead of gross gummy vitamins we only buy once a year and then forget to take. The first glimpses of the valley were bright, and I began to fly down into it.


After joining briefly with my familiar old faithful route, I rushed myself inside to warm up to wait for my ride. I couldn’t stop flipping through the images on my phone. This run was one where every moment was a piece of clarity, and each scene was burned brightly into my memory. This was my perfect fall run: misshapen, unplanned, wet, cold, bright, solitary, muddy, slow.

The great thing about hobby running is that it can be whatever you make of it. It can be going long, going fast, or just going. I want to hear about your idea of a perfect run! Let me know in the comments below or on my Insta @wherethesunsetslast!

RunningChris LambertzComment