Runner Heaven

Santa Cruz Redwood Forests. This was two-tenths of a mile from my dorm at UCSC.

Every runner has their own personal Runner Heaven.  This is the place where they mentally retreat when the present outlook is bleak. This different for every runner, but it serves the same purpose; it’s an escape from whatever’s happening at that moment.

Runner Heaven is a get-out-of-jail-free card.  It’s the place that gives us respite and helps us cope with less-than-ideal running conditions in the moment.  If runners were to design their own, ideal trails to run on, the trails would look like their Runner Heaven.

For me, I escape to the Santa Cruz redwood forests. When I’m at mile 45 of a race, dragging myself up a a vertical ascent, I imagine myself in Santa Cruz. When I’m travelling for business and my morning run is next to a highway, I imagine myself in Santa Cruz. When I’m stuck on an airplane and the seat in front of me is reclined, I imagine my trapped legs gliding over the Santa Cruz trails. Freedom.

The Santa Cruz redwood forests are some of the most beautiful trails I have ever run. Shaded by towering giants, the paths are covered in soft pine needles, ideal for the kind of running that makes you feel like you’re flying.

The best part of the Santa Cruz trails is the light. The redwoods filter sunlight to the forest floor, creating a diffused glow that feels like a quiet summer day. It’s gentle, peaceful, and isolated.

The trails go for miles, and it’s often rare to see another person.

The Santa Cruz trails are my Runner Heaven. They’re my running home. They’re the trails I know better than the streets I grew up on.

If I had gone to school anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have picked up running. But the Santa Cruz redwood forests were too compelling to ignore.

When I’m frustrated about running, or about life in general, I think about the Santa Cruz redwood forests. These trails seem eternal, and that’s comforting. They’ll always be there. They’re my Runner Heaven.

No two runners have the same Runner Heaven, the same trails they imagine themselves bounding over like antelope, adrenaline and endorphins pumping. But the outcome is the same.

Everyone, runner or not, has a place they like to retreat. For runners, our mental escape is Runner Heaven. In Runner Heaven, nobody can keep up with us. Runner heaven is the place where we’re strong, fast, and at peace.

Where’s your Runner Heaven? Where does your mind go when you’re stressed out?


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