By Trish Brutka

trish bio pic

I discovered trail running this year. I’ve always been a runner but have primarily stuck to roads and sidewalks. Many have told me over the years I should try trail running.  I resisted as one of the things I love about running is how I just walk out my front door and go. I didn’t realize how close a great trail system is to my front door though. I spent the summer exploring the trails on Traverse Mountain. 

Running trails requires more focus and attention to where your foot lands. I’m constantly adjusting as I run. My ankles, feet, and calves were sore in new ways after my first trail run. A mountain path has rocks, roots and ruts that you don’t run into as much on a road or sidewalk. Consequently, runs on a trail are slower than the same distance on a road. 

I found the trails accidentally in the spring. I decided to go as high as I could in the neighborhood (which is on the side of a mountain) while on a run. There was a mountain peak that didn’t appear too far to climb so I went straight up it to see the view from there. Once I got to the top, I saw another peak with a bench atop it and wanted to be on that bench. I then found a trail and followed it out into another part of the neighborhood and back home. I found that I liked the quiet peace on the trail versus running through the neighborhood. 

As I’ve made trail running part of my routine, I’ve been pondering on trails or paths and why we need them. Traverse Mountain doesn’t have many trees. It’s a lot of scrub plants and tumble weeds. There are paths for bikers and hikers and also paths for motorized vehicles. The paths for vehicles generally go straight up the side mountain. The paths for hikers or runners are switchbacks or gently wind up and down. I’ve used the vehicle paths and whether I’m ascending or descending, it’s much slower and arduous. The path is made for tires and has deep ruts, large rocks and looser dirt not meant for shoes to gain traction. I find it difficult to obtain any momentum either way I’m going. If I’m going up, I have to stop more frequently and go slower trying to ascend using the vehicle paths. The rest of my run then feels more difficult after expending so much energy.

The running paths still give me elevation.  I gain as much as a thousand feet on some paths, but with it being more gradual, I can actually ascend more quickly and with more energy at the top.  Often I can see part of the path up or below me from where I am. It seems like it would be quicker to just go through the brush rather than winding my way around. My first trail run, I came across two snakes at different points on the path. They were easy to spot and then avoid since I was on the path. If I were off the path, I would not be able to see or avoid a snake in the brush.

In recent years, the leaders in my church have increasingly focused and taught about the covenant path. Making and keeping covenants along the path of our life aids us in drawing closer to God and progressing. Dale Renlund taught,

“We can assess our own progress. We can know ‘that the course of life [that we are] pursuing is according to God’s will’​​​​ when we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We assimilate the attributes of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ into our character, and we love one another.  When you do these things, you will follow the covenant path and qualify to ‘dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.’​​​​ Your souls will be infused with the glory of God and with the light of everlasting life.​​​​ You will be filled with incomprehensible joy.”

Elder Dale Renlund

Progression on the covenant path, like a mountain trail, is also gradual. God doesn’t expect us to reach the apex in one great push. He gives us a path to follow for safety, protection, and peace. When we’re on the path and living in a way to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we will be alerted to obstacles or dangers ahead like the snake I saw. Off the path, we are more susceptible to harm and hazards not easily visible.  

Staying on the path allows us to better endure the climb of progression. I believe God would rather us be steady and consistent along the path than trying to go straight up. A kind, loving, and merciful God has given a path designed for us. He created this path for us to experience joy as we progress. He even gives us benches along he way to rest and enjoy the view. The covenant path is designed to guide us to a destination without fear of being lost.  We can be confident on the path that we are moving closer to God and salvation. Russell M. Nelson said,

“The pure doctrine of Christ is powerful. It changes the life of everyone who understands it and seeks to implement it in his or her life. The doctrine of Christ helps us find and stay on the covenant path. Staying on that narrow but well-defined path will ultimately qualify us to receive all that God has.​​​​ Nothing could be worth more than ​all​ our Father has!”

Russell M. Nelson

While I have great enjoyment and satisfaction with my new found hobby of trail running. I’m more grateful for the new perspective it has given me of all the blessings and joy from being on Jesus Christ’s covenant path.


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