An unnatural-born runner, a pretty regular yoga doer and a lover of cookies and other sweet treats, Times digital producer Laura Lane writes about her fitness journey. Questions, training tips or race suggestions? Throw her a line on email or Twitter.

The Unnatural-born Athlete: Friendly reminders
Laura Lane, The Times

It's no secret that I much prefer running the trails outside or through local neighborhoods to stomping away on the dreaded treadmill like a hamster in a wheel for what feels like an eternity. 

I don't know what it is, but running outdoors just seems so much easier. I don't feel the need to slow to a walk nearly as much and I find keeping a consistent pace is a piece of cake. I have a 10-miler scheduled as part of my half marathon training? You better believe I'll be running it outside. I'll make it work whether it's between storms or at the butt crack of dawn before the heat and humidity really hits.

(Side note: I just Googled butt crack to see if it was hyphenated, one word or two words and found the medical terminology for it is intergluteal cleft. The more you know. But back to what I was talking about.)

I've conveniently have had fair decent weather to get most of my training runs these last 10 weeks or so done outside. And that got me thinking about etiquette on the trails. Here are some of my personal rules that I try hard to abide by whether I'm out running, riding my bike or simply walking my pup Franklin past others and about:

Wave, give a thumbs up, nod, say hello or simply smile. It's not hard to simply acknowledge other folks out on the trail and cheer them on a little. And who knows? Perhaps that smile I just gave, even though it may look a bit grotesque when my face is as bright red as a tomato and I'm huffing and puffing while dripping a waterfall's worth of sweat onto the pavement, might brighten someone's day. 

Stay on your side of the road. Why? It'll keep the path clear for anyone coming from the opposite direction or for anyone coming up behind. It'll keep the paths wide open for everyone!

Say excuse me. Are you coming up fast behind someone walking slowly while chatting on the phone or cleaning up after their pup? Say excuse me. Or if you're on a bike and have a bell, ring it. It's just the polite thing to do. I know I always get a sudden jolt when someone comes flying past me without so much as a throat clearing to alert me to their presence. Because of that, I'm always saying excuse me, followed by a thanks as I'm passing people up.

Clean up after yourself and your pup. Dodging dog poop landmines and random trash gets annoying after a while. It's easy enough to pick up those little poops or garbage and carry it to the nearest garbage can or save it so you can throw it out at home. What's nice about the trails by me is they have garbage cans placed throughout and they provide little plastic baggies for those with dogs. It's just so easy to clean up!

Speaking up pups... Keep your pup's leash tight if it's notorious for lunging at or running after walkers, runners or bicyclists. It's partly for the dog's safety so it doesn't get run over and partly for the other person's safety so they aren't jumping out of the way last minute. Franklin is that dog. He's just so excited and wants to join in the fun and probably lick your face to death. But I keep him very close by when I see someone coming our way or when I'm alerted to someone coming up from behind. 

Finally, don't take yourself too seriously. This is really more for you than anyone else, but it still counts! You trip and fall? Laugh it off. I've done it twice! Step in a puddle that's now causing your shoes to squeak with each and every step you take like I did the other week? Embrace that squeak with pride. You have to slow to a walk for any reason? Don't fret about it. You run or walk at a pace that makes your body feel good and shrug it off. I do this all the time.

See you out on the trails!

Other happenings

-I'm getting amped up for the Girls on the Run 5K with the girls I'm helping coach this weekend! I'll give some of the highlights in my next blog.

-I'm also getting pumped up for (and slightly nauseous due to) the Chicago Half Spring Half Marathon. It's just over a week away! I'll update you on that in my next blog as well.

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