Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scampering...and Ultrarunning

(photo credits here)

Not many adults scamper--it's primarily a phenomenon of children and small cute animals, such as goats or cats. I love the definition from Merriam-Webster:

to run nimbly and usually playfully about

You see, there are two key facets: being nimble and playful. And this is why I love Ultrarunning--it affords me the opportunity to be playful and childlike. Scampering actually has a serious purpose in Ultrarunning--sometimes it's the best way to navigate a rocky downhill. See, you can step tentatively and carefully from rock to rock. Or you can opt to go kamikaze style, feet operating independently from each other, intuitively thinking/looking/reacting a couple of steps ahead, much like a chess master automatically calculating and executing his next move almost without conscious thought.

You may be taking a long stride with one foot while executing a stutter step with the other, all done automatically, unthinkingly, just doing it. You skip joyfully downhill in an exhilarating rush, much more fun than picking your way gingerly down. And, in my opinion, doing it just as safely, while having a blast!

One of my best mental pictures is of my buddy Dave C from Shippensburg as we ran the Appalachian Trail north near Pine Grove Furnace State Park. There was a rock-filled downhill, big rocks, not little rollers, and Dave without thinking took off hard and fast down the trail. I watched amazed from above as he literally scampered, loving the run, safely and sure-footedly picking out the route. I can see that image as clearly as when he did it some 12+ years ago, in a move that I call "Scampering 101."

He set the bar high and every single time I've done it since I've been rewarded with childlike joy and exuberance.

Try it!

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