On May 18, 2022

Matching our bodies to the seasons for health and happiness

By Merisa Sherman

I can feel the squishy soil in between my toes with each step. My toes spread apart as they sink into the freshly rained upon ground and I know I am joining with the earth. I can feel my toes curl downward as I reach my opposite leg forward, striding through the woods with the grace of a gazelle. The morning mist is just rising into the canopy of treetops above and I can see the morning sun start to peek in and sprinkle the greenery below with light. It’s a glittery morning as I run through the woods with my loose hair flying behind me.

I am flying, I am floating, I am one with nature.

By Merisa Sherman
The pesky Cairn Trail at Sherburne Trails West is a gorgeous place to run, but watch your feet.

That’s the goal anyways. My dream is broken up as the ball of my foot lands on a pointy rock and my leg slightly crumples under the pain before I catch the next stride. It takes a few steps to work the pain out from that one stupid rock, but I continue on. The pain brings my focus back to my foot placement and away from the beauty of the moment. It might be gorgeous, but one wrong move trail running and suddenly you’re on your hands and knees covered in blood or tripping and pulling your upper hamstring muscle as you try not to fall.

You would think it was easy, this running through the woods thing. I mean, four footed animals do it all the time without any problems. I mean, I have seen some very uncoordinated dogs trip over something because they were completely enraptured by a squirrel, but they don’t end up bleeding all over the place because of one missed step.

And it will only get worse. In a few weeks, I will have to be on pace or suffer the consequences. At this point, I am not training for a race but the unleashing of the black flies. By the time they hatch, I will have to be at a pace that is faster than the bugs. That means no stopping for water breaks, no pausing to adjust my shoes or my hair tie. I must be on point and ready as soon as I step foot out of the car to make my move. I must be quick and agile and on my foot placement.

But that is so hard to do as the Green Mountains are popping like only they can. The shells of the leaves are lying on the ground, stripped from their homes and blown around by the recent storms. The green is simply glowing as the canopy is not yet thick enough to block out the sun. I cannot get enough of it. Being part of the newness of the season, as the Green Mountain come back to life as the skiers and snowboarders begin their hibernation.

Whereas it is traditional to make your resolutions at the start of the new year, I tend to make mine with the blossoming of spring. Firstly, who has time to make resolutions during ski season? My mind is way too focused on work and skiing to think of anything but “may you ski more days this year than the last.” But that isn’t really a healthy resolution when you’re already skiing half the year. Instead, I wait until the earth is reawakening and I am just waking up from my winter stupor.

You don’t even need to make actual resolutions. The sun just calls you out to do things — like what else am I supposed to do at 5 in the morning when the sun comes streaming into my bedroom but get up early and run through the woods. It’s too hot to stuff my face with chicken wings and there is fresh asparagus popping up in the garden. And I actually drink water in the summer because otherwise I would just keel over. These aren’t resolutions, but my body adjusting with the changing of the seasons.

I’ve tried to read a bunch over the years about the ancient Indian theory of Ayurveda. While I am not a practitioner of holistic medicine, it does fit my philosophy that humans should strive to seek harmony between our bodies and the earth and environment that surrounds us. Ayurveda theory suggests that matching our bodies to the seasons creates increased health and happiness. And if that means that I should ski and eat quesadillas all winter to counter the dryness, then trail run and eat salad all spring, eat lightly with restorative afternoon naps during the hot summer days and use fall to eat root vegetables in preparation for winter, then this all sounds pretty good to me.

Anyways, that’s what I was thinking about while I was running. But mostly, I was thinking about the pointy rocks that were on the trail and how I wish there was a machine that would take all the rocks away and save my precious little feet.

Happy trail running!

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