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I used to think that to be healthy, I had to be a runner. I’m not sure what made running races seem like the end-all, be-all of healthfulness, but I thought I’d never be truly fit until I was an avid runner. So, I started running. And guess what? I hated it.
And because I hated it, I thought there must be something wrong with me. All these healthy people run all the time, and they seem to at least somewhat enjoy it—why can’t I? It took me years to learn that it was okay if running wasn’t for me. It didn’t make me inferior. It didn’t make me less healthy. It just meant I didn’t like running. Nothing more, nothing less.
Once I accepted that running wasn’t my bag, it freed me up to start exploring what was my thing. It was actually really empowering to admit I wasn’t a runner! I started getting my fitness in in ways that made me happy—yoga, long walks, and, of course, lots of shoveling compost in the garden. Stopping forcing myself to run also released time in my fitness schedule for me to do something I always enjoyed, but never really pursued whole-heartedly before—hiking.
I love getting out into nature. I love feeling like I’m all alone in a great big forest (well, alone with my husband and daughter). I love discovering little rivers and ponds that are hidden behind groves of 200 year old trees. I love hearing the birds and bugs and deers and squirrels. I love the way the air smells in the woods. I love the pace of it. I love that it’s expected, even encouraged, to go slow, stop and smell the wildflowers. I always come back from a hike feeling refreshed, strong, and renewed (which is not how I ever felt after a run).
I’m very lucky to live in prime hiking country. I mean, obviously, we don’t have the Rocky Mountains here or anything, but Southern Indiana is an incredibly beautiful area of the country to explore on foot. If you manage to get out the door before the heat and humidity get too oppressive (Midwestern summers, phew), we have beautiful rolling hills, wonderful wildlife, and some really flipping amazing trails. I love that we can hike all four seasons here, and each season is a totally different experience.