My favorite part of vacations: finding new running paths. The best way to experience a new place is to get out into it and explore on foot, in my opinion! Whether it’s New York City, North Carolina, Montana, or Mammoth, I always do a little research before a trip to find the best running hotspots. I feel like I get to see a part of the city or countryside that most tourists don’t. And I get to combine my love of travel with my love of running, which truly feels like vacation.
Last week, my parents and their friends rented a penthouse condo at the foot of the ski lifts on Mammoth Mountain and we spent 8 solid days exploring lakes and trails and mountains. I tagged along on their adventure, but began every morning with a run by myself at 9,000 ft. elevation.
You already know I’m more fond of running than the average person, but this trip made me more excited than ever to begin mixing up my workouts and training more seriously for my next marathon. Something about just burning off my energy, pushing my feet off the ground, hurling myself forward as fast as I can, music blasting out the sound of my own breath…I just can’t get enough. I feel so lucky to be able to run as far and as often as I want, injury-free and surrounded by nature. The fact that I’ve been safe and avoided any serious encounters with sketchy people or wild animals has not gone unappreciated either!
Some days I just run for its health benefits and because I feel like I need to maintain the long-distance-runner body type I’m used to. Some days I run because it’s something I know I’m good at and I need a confidence-booster. Some days I’m bummed out or stressed out over something, and I know that I seem to stop thinking/obsessing/worrying/hurting for that hour I’m striding down my path. Every day and every run is different but I almost always finish a run feeling stronger than I started.
And even though I can power through a treadmill session with a pair of headphones, nothing can ever compare to running outside. While I was in Mammoth, I ran up Lake Mary Rd. to Twin Lakes, then from Twin Lakes to Horseshoe Lake and back. I ran without music but spent every second taking in the silence, smells (I ran through a campground at one point where people started morning fires and cooked their bacon breakfasts), horse ranch, wild deer, bridges over creeks and brooks, expansive views of the Eastern Sierras, Lakes Mary, Mamie, and George, and the gorgeous massive pine trees. Hitting a plateau with views of the mountain tops make you feel pretty small :)
Speed has never been my strong suit and the fact that I actually enjoy running uphills makes it obvious that I’m a cross country runner at heart <3 I just thrive off of the feeling of cresting a really steep incline and knowing that I struggled and pushed myself. After I catch my breath, I’m always ready to do it again. I’ve added a few hilly trails and hill repeats to my workouts over the next few weeks as I gear up for my next marathon.
I passed high school cross country teams every day and was honestly jealous of their running camps. I went to Runner’s Workshop camps for 2 years in high school, and my high school coach also organized his own running camp for us a couple summers up in Big Bear, CA. Running teams and elite athletes love altitude training!
From the start of the Lake Basin Path on Lake Mary Rd. (which starts as Main St.), it’s 5.3 miles up to the finishing point of Horseshoe Lake. The bike path runs parallel with the one-lane road but sits a few feet over so that trees and fences usually separate you from cars.
Horseshoe Lake also has a perfect 2-mile loop around the circumference of the lake basin. The trail picks up at the parking lot, narrowing down to a single-track trail with pine trees on both sides. It was the flattest run of my trip because most streets have dramatic inclines and long flat roads are hard to find.
If you are braver than me or have a bigger group to run with, there are so many more bike trails to explore but I was by myself and nervous about bear sightings so I stuck with semi-paved and heavily-trafficked routes this time :) If you’ve ever run in Mammoth or the Eastern Sierra’s, let me know where in the comments below. I’d love to check out more areas!
Every morning after my run, we hit up a local coffee shop. At first, we intended to find a different unique coffee shop each day, but there was a definite favorite that we ended up at 5 days in a row. Full coffee shop review will be up tomorrow because it’s Monday after vacation and this girl has to get to work. See you again soon!