Every runner has a unique set of reasons that inspires him or her to run. Some are driven by the need for competitive success and the thrill that comes from standing on a podium. Others just want to test their physical limits by entering ultra-distance events.
For Blane Bachelor, 38, a full-time freelance writer in San Francisco, California, the reason is far simpler, yet as deeply fulfilling as completing a 50k ultra or wearing a trail race medal.
“Running is a huge part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember,” says Bachelor. “I depend on running to relieve stress, tune-out of the hassles of life and really to feel better about the world. I think a lot of runners feel that way. You never hear somebody come back from a run and say, “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Enduring two knee surgeries in a ten year time span to repair a torn ACL on the same knee hasn’t dampened her commitment to running. “The surgeries slowed me down but I still get out to run 3-5 times per week 5-8 miles at a time,” she says. “I'm so grateful to be back running again after my surgery. When something is taken away from you, you tend to appreciate it even more. On the days when I don't feel like lacing up my sneakers, I think about all the people who, for whatever reason, can't run, and that is a major motivator."
Running the trails in her neighborhood of Glen Park, Bachelor finds a place to bring some peace to a mind that’s constantly buzzing with work and life responsibilities.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely used running more as a psychological, stress relieving function,” she says. “On regular daily runs, I tend to be more contemplative, working out issues in my head, going over life's little struggles, or just zoning out.”
Staying fit and in shape doesn’t get overlooked. “There’s something therapeutic about breaking a sweat. The easiest way to do that is to put on a pair of shoes and go for a run,” she says. “Yes, you are exercising and exerting yourself. At the same time, there’s an escape mentally. There’s something so uplifting about the running experience. If you are lucky enough to live in a place like the Bay Area there are ample opportunities to get out in nature near the city.”
With multiple half and full marathons on her running resume, Bachelor loves to explore the trails around the Presidio. “For me, trail running is so much more fun. There are roots to navigate, slippery dirt and the technical aspects of the trail. You have to be on your toes more on the trail. You have to concentrate on what’s going on so you don’t tumble down the mountain. There’s something that’s kind of fun and adventurous about that. Trail running is a very different experience compared to the road,” she says.
Like many runners who make the transition from road to trail, Bachelor has experienced a fascinating turning point that other new trail runners encounter. “When you first get started on the trails you feel like a bumbling idiot out there. After awhile, you find a groove, you get more confident and trust your feet and trust your shoes. Your biomechanics just click at some point,” she says. “It’s a really gratifying experience when that happens. Trail running especially lights me up—there’s nothing more invigorating than putting on a pair of shoes and dashing off through the wilderness, with dirt under my feet and the trail winding ahead.”
The Presidio is one of Bachelor’s favorite places to run in San Francisco. “It’s like having a slice of the wilderness on the edge of the city. I love the giant redwoods, towering trees, and the calm natural feeling with miles and miles of trails,” she says. “Part of the beauty of trail running, is that there’s an element of discovery. It seems like every time you go on the trail, there’s an adventure of some kind, big or small.”
The life of a freelance writer can be stressful, constantly chasing interview sources and meeting deadlines. Bachelor, a contributor to Runner’s World and author of dozens of running-related articles, craves her daily run. “If I’ve been working all day and haven’t left the house by 5pm, I will be climbing the walls,” she says. “I can’t wait to put on my shoes and hit the trails for an hour. That’s my therapy and I look forward to that run.”
She’s feels fortunate that many of her assignments involve running. “It’s so much easier writing about a topic that you are passionate about. I feel lucky that on some days I’m kind of getting paid to run,” she says. “Writing about runners is so inspiring. Everyone has a really neat story. There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie in trail running. I love to help them give a voice to what they are doing. When you get bit by the running bug you kind of understand what that’s all about.”