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Steve Wagner, Published February 26 2012

Ambition for running outdoors building

Bemidji, Minn.

A few days ago, after an eight-mile tempo run indoors, I couldn’t help but feel great during the drive home, where I would get ready for the workday.

Sure, the workout left me with that feeling of tired satisfaction after a hard effort.

But the sight of the sun rising above the horizon, shimmering off the pond hockey rinks on Lake Bemidji, provided a bit of optimism. Above the streaks of crimson reflected the early morning light. And then it struck me.

Slowly spring is reappearing as each day adds minutes of daylight. Soon temperatures will begin warming and the signs of the season will reemerge. Perhaps I’m simply ready for running outside without layers of clothes, flashing lights and spikes for my shoes.

A few days before my post-workout revelation, I drove to a few nearby parks, where cross country skiers were out traversing the trails and enjoying winter. Part of my reasoning was to become more familiar with the area and give my imagination a bit of context for trails that have not been run.

Inches of new snow may have recently given skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers an extension on their season of play. Soon, though, their playground will go through transition, opening up the trails for runners and mountain bikers.

And the anticipation makes my current training all the more important. The daily grind, whether it’s monotonous running in circles at the track or logging daily miles in the cold, will prepare me for the best of the coming year.

Most days, training isn’t glamorous. It provides an escape from the daily hustle and bustle of everyday life. It can challenge the discipline and commitment needed to making slow, sometimes hard-to-notice improvements.

But it also builds a foundation for those days when, instead of admiring the beauty of the outdoors through a window, I’ll be out along the lake or on the trails, winding through the woods, filled with the euphoric rush of an effortless run.

The tough days, braving the elements or spent indoors, simply fuel my ambition to be ready for those times when I can offer the best of myself in the best of places – in the great outdoors.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.