Spring is almost here, and with it comes that wonderful weather we all enjoy so much. After spending the winter months cooped up inside, I can’t wait to be outdoors and soak up the Colorado sunshine. Although Thanksgiving was many months ago now, I find myself realizing that being mindful of what I’m grateful for should be a daily occurrence instead of a yearly one.

I’m always grateful for my wife, my family, and my patients, but I also want to share the gratitude of having an active body that can still do amazing things! I celebrated my 64th birthday this year (Ouch!), so being able to enjoy skiiing, hiking, biking and having the ability to do those things has become more meaningful to me.

Of all these activities, running is the one I have become the most grateful for and I’ll tell you why. It all started back in college.

Back then it was almost un-cool to run on the street (or anywhere) in Boulder. People would occasionally make comments or even laugh at me. Hard to believe now but it was true then!

I then went to medical school in San Francisco, which, in contrast, was a great place to run. It was a way to relieve stress and give me energy after sitting in class for long hours. Then early in my practice years I ran a marathon, and since then several half marathons and many 10K’s as well. I continue to run to this day.

But I have the most gratitude for what I’m still able to do right now. I don’t need to run another marathon to feel fulfilled.

Several years ago I took some time away from running because my body didn’t feel too good the next day. When I did run, it was very short distances. Then, I met the man. He came to me as a patient.  (I’ll let you in on a little secret, when we really get to know our patients, we doctors sometimes get as much or more from them than they get from us).  All I can remember was that he was a retired surgeon, in his 70s, and was in really good shape; he looked like Adonis. I asked what he did to stay in such good shape and he said:

“I live in the mountains west of Boulder and I run on trails. If I ran on streets and sidewalks I would run less than a mile and hurt the next day” (sounded like where I was headed). “That just doesn’t happen running on trails.”

I believe people are sometimes put in our paths for a reason. He changed my whole attitude and gave me confidence. With ankles that sprain easily, I gradually took his advice to heart. I found trail running a great way to stay in shape. It still clears my mind from the stresses of life; running a business with 25 employees, doing research, and writing a book means I’ve got a lot going on. It’s a great way to problem solve. The sweat and oxygen rev up the creativity.

So, on most weekends, you can catch me running up around Horsetooth. I’m the middle-aged guy (don’t tell anyone I’m 64) you might pass on Tower Road, Blue Sky Trail or Horsetooth Trail (those are my favorites), and Adriann, my wife, sometimes joins me.

I’m very grateful to have this active life. And it’s even more amazing that I have such an athletic wife to share those times with. The motivation all started from one of you, a patient, and I hope this blog motivates you to keep your body moving too. Consider trail running for yourself as you get older, and let us know what your favorite trails are in the comments below. See you out there!

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