Rediscovering Nature beneath the Soles of My Sneakers

By: Cheyenne Knight

When I signed up for my first half marathon, I vowed to train entirely outdoors. I knew that climbing on a treadmill day after day to stare at the same patch of grass, the same residence hall, and the same students walking to class for four months of training would take all the fun out of it.

So I vowed to train outdoors, even if that meant enduring weather that I never ran in and exploring parts of Pittsburgh that I never saw before. I took it as an opportunity to challenge myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. I also took it as an opportunity to rediscover my love for the outdoors. After spending almost every day sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen for hours, I was ready for a reason to get outdoors and reconnect with nature.Trail Run 1

Over the past four months of training, I have learned a lot about the outdoors during my runs.

I learned that nature doesn’t take in the consideration of anyone. Regardless of what your training schedule calls for on a particular day, the weather is going to do as it pleases. It snowed today? Put on your ear warmers and gloves, slip an extra pair of socks on, and put those dorky shoe spikes your grandmother got you for Christmas over your sneakers to prevent slipping. (If you don’t wear them, I can almost guarantee you’re going to slip. I learned that the hard way.) It’s currently raining? Find a waterproof jacket and a baseball cap. It’s 80 degrees in March? Please don’t forget your sunscreen. This is Pittsburgh, remember. You are bound to experience all four seasons within your few months of training.

I learned that there are places in the city that you can really only experience on foot, and if you haven’t been there before, you are missing out. While training, I finally found the rest of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that I hadn’t seen before, and was blown away by the views that this trail had to offer. I was able to experience Pittsburgh through the woods, near the road, along the river, and across the bridges just by running one path.

I learned that running without music or a friend to talk to really allows you to immerse yourself in your surroundings. I used to not be able to run without music, finding it difficult to really focus on the task at hand and using music as a way to distract myself from how much I didn’t enjoy running. After I started running longer distances through the woods, however, I decided to put my headphones away and really pay attention to what was going on around me—I hadn’t realized how much I was missing. I heard different wildlife, smelled different flowers, saw different trees I hadn’t noticed before. Even the air felt different. I felt more present, and it made for much more enjoyable runs.

I learned that my exercise does not have to be confined to four walls and gym equipment. As a fitness minor and aspiring personal trainer, much of what I enjoy doingSchenley Trail involves working out in a gym atmosphere. As a nature lover, however, it is hard for me to stay indoors on beautiful summer days. I now appreciate that I can adapt my exercise to outdoor spaces and really utilize the parks and trails around me.

I learned that I never regret facing my fears and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Since I’m usually stuck in Oakland during the school year, I don’t know many of the other neighborhoods and parks in Pittsburgh. Prior to training, I stuck to running the same few trails in Schenley Park. I was wary about adventuring somewhere new, on foot, alone. But I did it, and now I am thankful that I can navigate so many different trails in Pittsburgh and have the confidence in myself to embark on new paths.Trail Run 2

If you are looking to sign up for a race or a trail ride, or just want to spend more time outdoors, lace up your sneakers and hit the trails around Pittsburgh. Keep your headphones at home and really listen to the world around you. Be mindful of the path before you, but don’t forget to take a few moments to look around and take the scenery in. I promise that you won’t regret it.

Marathon Medal

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OUTDOOR News

  • Getting To Know Our Staff: 12 Questions with Ian Brown

    December 12, 2017

    There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into planning your favorite outdoor adventures! Our staff questionnaire series allows you to learn about those who work inside to get you outside.This week we’ve interviewed Ian Brown, our new Program Director.

    1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    Ian Brown Blog 1I grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio, located in the foothills of Southern Ohio. For those who don’t know, Chillicothe is home to the outdoor drama Tecumseh and was Ohio’s First Capital.  

     » Read more about: Getting To Know Our Staff: 12 Questions with Ian Brown  »

  • Expanding Your “Nature Zone”

    December 5, 2017

    By: Amy Camp
    Increasing your comfort levels in the great outdoors

    Life and career coaches, myself included, often work with their clients to recognize and expand their “comfort zones.” Imagine a comfort zone as being a small circle of activities and situations in which you feel safe or comfortable. It’s like a cozy little bubble that can be hard to step beyond. Our comfort zones can be expanded, however, and our lives will be enriched when we challenge ourselves to step out.

    Just beyond the comfort zone is another, larger circle – the “learning zone.” And beyond that is the “danger zone.” (And who wants to go there?

     » Read more about: Expanding Your “Nature Zone”  »

  • Behind the Scenes: Meet Grace

    November 28, 2017

    This week we’re happy to introduce another valuable member of our intern team, Grace Groeger! Grace is a senior at Slippery Rock University majoring in Public Relations.

    Grace Groeger1. What are you currently up to outside of Venture Outdoors? 

    Outside of Venture Outdoors, I’m currently on the big girl job hunt. It’s a scary place out there, but being able to see all the possibilities is so eye opening. Besides that I am preparing myself for a snowy winter to get out and snowboard.  

    2. What brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    I came across Venture Outdoors just trolling through Indeed one day.

     » Read more about: Behind the Scenes: Meet Grace  »

  • In The Spirit of Thanksgiving

    November 21, 2017

     

    If you follow us on social media, you know that we’ve been participating in a #30DaysOfGratitude challenge. Every day for the last 21 days, we’ve posted about something or someone that we’re grateful for. What we’ve learned over these three weeks is that we would need an #InfiniteDaysOfGratitude challenge to showcase all that Venture Outdoors is thankful for.

    In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re continuing with our #30DaysOfGratitude by sharing what the Venture Outdoors staff is grateful for today.

     

    Sherry and Granddaughter

     

    “I’m thankful for this little baby doll right here.

     » Read more about: In The Spirit of Thanksgiving  »

  • Lakeside and Treetops

    November 14, 2017

    By: Chrissy Ludwikowski

    As the days become shorter (and the work days seemingly longer), it can be hard for families to make time to be together, and one’s mind doesn’t normally put colder days hand-in-hand with outdoor activities. Fortunately, we live in a city that has opportunities available year-round to invoke our sense of adventure, even during our daily grind (and don’t worry, these adventures will get your blood pumping to keep you mighty warm)!

    Thanks to Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh, my family has adopted a love for everything that the outdoors has to offer,

     » Read more about: Lakeside and Treetops  »

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Thank you for another great season!
We’ll see you on the water in 2018!

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