COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - I don't like treadmills. No offense to those who you use them at a local gym. They do help you exercise inside and out of the cold, but you're running nowhere, every time you're on a treadmill.
My preference is to be outside, amongst nature. I usually run on the pavement of trails like The Fall Line Trace, also known as rails to trails in Columbus. It's also convenient to run in my neighborhood or at a local park, like Lake Bottom or the hilly Flat Rock Park.
With just about anything in life, to prevent it from being boring or repetitive, I think it's good to change it up, try new paths. This applies to running too.
Just a few days ago, I made my first trip to Providence Canyon State Park, known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon" – located in Lumpkin, about 40 miles south of Columbus.
I'll admit, that trail kicked my tail several times during the 10+ mile run. It's good preparation for my half marathon there in 2 weeks. Some friends and a co-worker are running the 5K and 10K at Providence Canyon at the same time.
Still, running above and below this beautiful canyon made me feel a little like a kid again. Running through the woods gave me a sense of adventure – one that's sometimes missing in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.
It's primal. As I ran up and down through the woods of this state park, I'm just glad no one was chasing me like in one of my favorite TV shows "The Walking Dead."
There were obstacles along the way, a lot like life. I had creeks to cross, some mud to venture through, uneven surfaces, hills to climb and go down, while watching my step on roots and sticks and rocks.
Sound like fun? It was. There's some fear and hesitation, not knowing what's next on the path. Then, it brings excitement to try something new – and succeed! There's challenges that are tougher than we expect, and make us tougher.
I met a group of kids and parents from Fort Lauderdale, who were at Georgia's Little Grand Canyon the same time, on a field trip. They asked about my run, and saw me finish 2 hours later, pretty exhausted.
The key is to keep those legs moving, whether it be on a flat road or an up-and-down state park, where my pace was 2+ minutes slower per mile than how I usually run.
If you're not on a treadmill, cold weather is another element to prepare for and battle. I've learned to have the proper clothing, especially when I'm in the North Carolina mountains, visiting family.
In colder weather, I've also learned to have the proper mindset – not making excuses to skip a run, whether I'm training for a 5K or marathon or whatever.
Just last week, a friend and I ran 5 miles in Columbus, partly in 20 mile-per-hour winds. It was cold! You might say, it was another mountain to climb, but it was worth it, to get to the top of my next challenge.