Unlike most people, I like to run in scenic places. Problem is that I live in a suburb of a city and it’s not very scenic. So I try to run in parks whenever possible. Occasionally I’ll run at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. I like it there as there are both paved and non paved trails. They wind all over and there are endless possibilities for routes. Also, there are usually lots of other folks out there being active too. Only thing is that it’s a nature preserve, so there are wild animals out there. I have no problem with that, but I will tell you one thing – it keeps you on your toes.
There have been several times I’ve been out there running where I’ve had to jump over a snake on the trail. That’s freaky, but that adrenaline keeps you running, I tell you! After you jump over a snake, every single stick and root on the ground looks like another snake in my mind!
A couple of times I’ve been there either early in the morning or in the early evening when it’s dark out. There are no lights on the trails, and if there’s no moon out, it can be hard to see what’s around you. But what is freaky deaky is that you can hear animals scurrying about. Chances are most of them are rabbits, but there could be bobcats, coyotes, snakes, or even mountain lions (I’ve been told).
I tell you this because in each of those experiences, I definitely picked up my pace. I read a Matthew McConaughey story one time where he recommended running in perceived dangerous locations to keep your adrenaline pumping and your feet moving. Let me tell you, it works.
This is all on my mind because last night I was running through a park near my house and I came upon a wild bobcat. The sun was setting and it was getting dark. I was on a paved trail that went through a wooded area. I saw a few rabbits take of frightened into the woods as I startled them. That was jumpy enough for me as I didn’t see them until I was right on top of them. But then, I turned a corner and apparently startled a bobcat that was on the trail right in front of me. It shot off into the woods. But I could see it’s glowing eyes looking at me from the woods. I didn’t know what to do, so I stopped. I decided not to continue on that path as the bobcat could be up ahead. Luckily there was another path to my right, and I took it. The rest of the run though, I was looking over my shoulder to see if it was behind me. I know that I scared it more than it scared me, but still.
Don’t get me wrong, it was cool seeing one in the wild, but freaky. And I definitely picked up my pace a bit to get out of the wooded area as soon as I could. I also made it a point to make loud noises the rest of that portion of my run, hoping that it would warn them I was coming and hopefully they’d be gone before I got there, if that makes sense.
So there you go, if you want to run faster than you are, just put yourself in a scary situation. Most of the fear is going to be all in your head, anyway. I’ve actually heard of an app that puts zombie grunts, footsteps, etc. in your ipod when you’re running. They noises gradually get louder and more frequent until you’re at a sprint, then it calms down and starts over again.
Something to think on.