On Mountain Running

I live really close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Which means that I live really close to one of the best training grounds in the country, one of the biggest, most beautiful, most exciting playgrounds our country has to offer.

While I’ve always said I’d rather live IN the mountains than near the mountains, school ties me to Calgary for four more months. While frustrating, I take solace in getting on ‘mountain time’ every chance I get. But lately I’ve been struggling with safety in the mountains; specifically safety while running, snowshoeing or hiking.

Hiking Yamnuska (with friends) in September

Hiking Yamnuska (with friends) in September

Unluckily for me, I do most of my running on my own. My ‘running friends’ are strewn all around the world, and I only have a few friends that are just getting into trail running in Calgary who aren’t ready to do the mileage that I do. I don’t really mind being on my own, per say, because running for me is me time; time that I get all to myself to daydream, to plan, to relax, to meditate. Like so many others, when I’m running my soul is about as exposed as it gets.

But since I run on my own, it means that I don’t run in the mountains. I have four months left of living a stone’s throw from one of the best training grounds in the world (did I really just make that claim?!) and I don’t currently use it!

Here’s why: I have a very healthy fear of bears and cougars (and grouse!) and have been taught not to go to the mountains alone (and no my imagination doesn’t count as a buddy). But the force drawing me to the mountains is so strong that I’m feeling huge frustration. While I have ample hiking buddies, skiing buddies, and snowshoeing buddies to escape with, I really need a running buddy. Or some courage. Or both.

Hiking in Yoho (with friends) in October

Hiking in Yoho (with friends) in October

What do you think about the safety of running alone in the mountains? Bears aren’t TOO much of a worry right now as most, if not all, are currently hibernating. But cougars are the ninjas of the wilderness and some of the most mysterious, and deadly animals out there. And while both the cougars and bears would rather avoid humans altogether, we have barged in on their habitat making human-animal interactions unavoidable, however rare.

So here I am in Canmore, sitting in front of the fire, trying to figure out what to do about my desire to run in the mountains. Today I did my hill repeats at the very base of Lady MacDonald mountain, barely half a km out of town. I made tons of noise and was on full alert (NO headphones allowed!!!). But I was on edge the whole time thinking about who might have been watching.

I really need a running buddy. Or some courage. Or both.

If you are a runner in Calgary or Canmore or Banff who is also missing a running buddy and some courage, GET AT ME. We need each other. I’m not fast, but I like to go far. I’m a pretty good listener, but don’t mind not talking. I have been known to get way to excited about just being outside, and sometimes it’s overwhelming for others. Oh and I’m pun-ny, really roll your eyes pun-ny. There are just so many adventures to be had and I don’t want to miss out for another day!

One of my best ever cakes, which I have been known to make for friends (this may or may not be a bribe)

One of my best ever cakes, which I have been known to make for friends (this may or may not be a bribe)

*Disclaimer: My lack of courage reflects both my fear of being attacked by an animal as well as my fear of making new friends; both of which aren’t immediately obvious upon meeting me.*

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10 thoughts on “On Mountain Running

  1. Any of you running buddies that can’t run the distances you do, ride a mountain bike? It’s a great alternative for those of us that can’t keep up or don’t do those distances. I’d do it if I was closure.
    Auntie sue

    • I’ve thought of that for the summer time and will definitely do it, but in the winter it’s a little tougher because of all the snow in the mountains. I found a website the other day that might be able to hook me up with people though, and also went exploring on trails I hadn’t been on in the city! So that’s something!!!

  2. Great post – I especially like how you closed your plea with that delicious cake. You’ll have people beating down your door to run with you! You should check out iNeverSolo.com. It doesn’t scare the bears away but is a good way to share you plan before you head out.

    • Just checked it out…what a cool idea! Will definitely be using it in the future! Do you know if it works anywhere in the world? I’m travelling this summer and it seems like the kind of thing that would be great for then! I guess only if we have access to internet on a regular basis though.

  3. Amazing photo – and thats the sort of view, that keeps any one running!
    Freedom, peace, space, fresh air….
    (health, endurance, stamina – and mine a ‘mid-life-crisis’) (lol)!

  4. Trail running has been a blessing to my aging knees and you are smart to stay on the trails, you’ll be happy as you age. Trail running revived my otherwise directionless running life about ten years ago. Ironically, I won an age group award on the US side of the Rockies at half marathon in Frisco, Colorado called the Run the Rockies. But as far as running alone in the mountains, I think you are wise to find a partner. And I think it’s more than my paternal instinct as father of four, it’s strictly for safety reasons. Safety first. Hopefully, your blog turned up a partner for you. If not, post a message in school or community bulletin board. Good luck, and stick with the trails, they will reward you.

    • Thank you for the insight! While there are a few places I’d consider going on my own due to the normally high traffic I agree I’m best to find partners. Unfortunately the blog didn’t turn any up, but my friends who are getting into trail running are progressing quickly and I hope to get out with them soon! Also, since it’s winter I’ve been snowshoeing and cross country skiing which has been lots of fun!

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