Why I run in (and for) nature

In the midst of the recent and oft-talked about polar vortex, I opened my front door to a beautifully clear morning. The sun had just risen, there were a few clouds in the sky, and the roads were mostly empty. Despite the outside temperature being 5 degrees Fahrenheit, I was excited to get my morning run in.

Admittedly, my excitement was multifactorial: I’m currently training for my next half marathon this March; I had to work a shift later that day and few things give a pre-ER shift endorphin boost like a brisk morning run; I love nature, I love weather, and I love being outside to enjoy them; Oh, and I love to run.

Living in such close proximity to the Mount Vernon Trail gives me an opportunity to regularly appreciate some of the wonderful sites in and around our nation’s capital. On any given day, I can run along the George Washington Parkway, I can run past (or through) numerous parks, I can run along the Ronal Reagan National Airport and watch planes take off or land so closely that I feel like I could almost reach up and touch the plane! I can run along the urban landscape of Washington, DC, or I can run though the historic cobbled streets of Old Town Alexandria.

I’ve been lucky to have experiences running in many different locations and in many different weather conditions. I’ve run in many inspiring landscapes – through Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah, in Yellowstone National Park, and in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, as well as the urban landscapes of London, San Diego and DC, to name a few. I’ve run in single digit and triple digit weather, as well as wind, rain, sleet, and snow. Regardless of the conditions outside, I will run outside. One of the reasons that I run is so I can be outside.

Not only when I run outside am I running IN nature, I’m also running FOR nature.   As a true tech geek, I often boot up numerous gadgets prior to my run – GPS, heart rate monitor, iPhone.  In addition, I’m able to make every mile I run benefit the work of The Nature Conservancy by using a free app, called Charity Miles – earning 25 cents for the mission for every mile I run.

I plan to continue enjoying these passions of mine and keeping them as a major aspect of my daily life. Some day, I won’t be able to run races for a new PR any more, but I plan to continue running outside until I’m unable to run any more. Then maybe it will be time to take up outdoor speed walking.

About the author: Michael Sabatino, DO, is an ER physician in Alexandria, VA.  He runs regularly for The Nature Conservancy, raising money for our mission through the Charity Miles app.

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