DEEPER THE ROOTS,
GREATER THE FRUITS
Words by Kamilah Journet
Photography by Emily Maye
“Look good, feel good. Feel good, run good.”
My teammates and I would repeat this mantra to ourselves as we tied team ribbons around high ponies, or tucked tags on the start line just before we toed the line to race laps around the track. It’s this same sentence that I repeated to myself as I filled the pockets of my half tights with roasted sweet potato, dried figs and gummy worms and slipped a packet of Maurten into my Pocket Bra. I found myself heading towards the start line of a 36K trail race.
I had spent the past few years logging miles day in and day out, almost a decade post many of my PRs. I had fallen in love with the emptiness of track as I warmed up at sunrise, and the thrill of leaving everything out there, even if no one was watching. But while prep and collegiate athletics laid a foundation of consistency, there came a point where I fell in the in-between. It’s not that PRs were out of reach, it was simply that living life, training and balancing working a full-time job means that sometimes having a sick outfit in your gym bag isn’t enough to will you out the door at 6pm after a long day of meetings. Those runs just didn’t feel good. And as I drifted further and further out of my routine of Track Tuesdays or Sunday long runs and instead leaned into my career, I found myself losing confidence and consistency. I realized there was more to being a runner, than simply running. So the transition from endless repeats around the track to bushwhacking through the hillside was an effort to adjust my training to something that simply felt better.
As I hiked up the first climb I was surprised when a fellow racer struck up a conversation. “You doing the 50K too?” I had caught those who started 30 minutes before my race, yet had also committed to racing an additional 15K and one more peak. “Oh, no, I’m in the 36K. It’s my first long trail race.” “Oh neat. Racing marathons before this?” “No, I’m a miler.” Silence, before a response of “Oh wow, that’s crazy, you’re doing great.” I’d never spoken during a race outside of the occasional sorry for stumbling as I tried to position myself to kick, but the encouragement from the trail community was everywhere. I raced comfortably and had fun for the entirety of the race, and I realized that despite the fact that I considered myself a miler, I was at my core, an athlete. I’ve committed over a decade to doing the little things, both in and outside of physically logging miles. I said yes to shakeout runs during my lunch break, I (sometimes) chose sleep over a third beer, I cheered on friends for their workouts, I rode my bike to yoga, I did planks at my desk and I felt good day in and day out about a lifestyle that allowed me to literally climb mountains. No Days Off isn’t a call to burn out. It’s not a call to run more miles than everyone else on your Strava feed, or smash all of your PRs. It’s about finding the balance that allows you to plant your roots and grow. And for that reason, a 4:51 miler jumping into a 36K isn’t all that crazy.
No Days Off is our annual call for consistency; a paean to patience and persistence through the cold months of winter. To keep you moving and keep you adapting, each year we release our No Days Off collection, tailored to the harsh conditions you encounter when you're building towards a spring goal. Discover the collection.