Keeping connected and motivated as a runner living ‘off the grid”
Tired of the traffic and the fast pace you pack up your apartment in the city and buy that beautiful little cottage in the countryside. You exchange your road shoes for that rugged pair of trail runners, paved roads and sidewalks make way for endless trails in every direction.
You get up before dawn and run a new trail every day for a month, Tuesday Time Trials are never the same route. You trade your spot in the Pack to run wild and free like the Lone Wolf you were born to be.
But even Lone Wolves get tired and lonely. Every now and then they might also appreciate a little running rendezvous with a fellow Lone Wolf or perhaps even a pack, whether it is for a little pat on the back after a long hard day on the trails or for a little pep talk to get back out there after an injury or bout of the flu. Inherently, people were not meant to be solitary beings.
So how do you stay motivated and connected to other active people when you are living in the sticks?
Share the passion
Logging your miles on multisport social fitness platforms such as Strava or Dailymile has plenty advantages. Not only can you keep track of your personal progress, but you may discover and connect with other athletes in the area. You may lack the motivation o a real life running partner waiting for you in the cold to pitch for your morning run, but logging miles on a social platform is still a great way to stay accountable to those that follow your journey. If you like to take pictures on the run, you can post these and other comments alongside your workouts to complete your running diary, something worth sharing and reflecting back on during times when you need it.
Running in the countryside may be a far more calming experience than a jog in a bustling city, but sometimes the monotonous crunch of your heavy footfall on rugged gravel hills may get you more down than up. Consider running with music. Even if you run with just one earbud so as to still be mindful of your surroundings, your favorite motivational mix can put the spring back in your step.
Fastest Known Times
Citydwellers usually have a great number of events to choose from most weekends. Parkruns, a club long run, organised races, these are the things that motivate runners to run often, faster or longer. They train and prepare for them, talk about them and look forward to them. Though there may not be frequent nearby events when one lives off the grid, it doesn’t mean that all your runs have to be solo, slow and go unnoticed. A trend that is fast gaining momentum is recording Fastest Known Times, or FKTs. Athletes attempt to run and record a specific (trail) route in the fastest known time, named so since there may have been faster attempts in the past that went unrecorded. Runners could make the attempt solo or with company, with support or unsupported, and of course repeat the attempt as often as they like. The rules are few and simple, and times and reports are shared on a dedicated website.
Most training programs call for at least one day per week of decent cross training. Sure, the gym’s weight section had you feeling self conscious and the smell of chlorine put you off indoor pools forever, but cross training opportunities in the great outdoors are legio. It is well known that swimming is one of the best low-impact high-reward cardio workouts, and the added bonus of fresh air and beautiful scenery while swimming laps in an open lake is unbeatable.
Perhaps cycling or mountain biking was never an option for you, but taking up biking out in the countryside may make more sense. Not only is it an easy way to explore more of one’s surroundings and a great cross training activity, it is also an opportunity to connect with other likeminded people.
While logging and sharing your miles on Strava you notice that your area is abuzz with numerous popular mountain biking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing routes. You may not be as far off the grid as you suspected! Even though you may not want to saddle up or strap in more frequently just for some company, there are plenty of ways how runners, cyclists and other athletes can support each other and for the various disciplines to complement your running. This can be achieved through contact on digital fitness platforms, meeting up on the trails by chance or appointment, by training together or even organising local multisport events, duathlons or triathlons.
If your nearest neighbor is really a few hours’ drive away, or socializing is just not your thing but you could still do with a nice challenge and put yourself ‘out there’, you might consider signing up for a virtual race or challenge. With a virtual race you will have to complete a specific distance, although you will get to choose your route and terrain. With a challenge, such as those offered frequently on platforms such as Strava or MapMyRun, you may even determine your mileage, as long as you stick to the game plan and RUN.
If you were still in two minds whether you should quit that big city job to live your dream of becoming a perpetual trail runner, now you know you won’t have to become a total hermit if you don’t absolutely want to.