GTPulse: Run Leelanau Connects Runners to Beautiful Local Trails

There’s a window seat looking out onto my street that I like to sit at. As the weeks go by I’ve noticed more and more people walking and running by. Getting outside is one of the few recreational activities we have right now and it’s a great way to bring a little more happiness and comfort to the current monotony of everyday life. Northern Michigan, in my opinion, is a great place to be quarantined. We have pretty views, glassy air and stretches of road to coast along that provide a carousel of beauty to pass through our car windows when the view at home gets just a little too familiar. If you’re a current or aspiring runner, are you exploring new territory? Have you found quarantine to be something that makes you want to run more or less? Jennifer Symons is a resident and fan of Leelanau County and she has been running and soaking up all of its beauty long before quarantine began with her blog Run Leelanau.

“I have a blog, which I am horrible at keeping up with. But, I also have a Facebook and I’m really active on Instagram. I think it’s been an easier platform to interact with people on. I do get a lot of messages and comments on there like, ‘oh where is this? I’d love to check it out.’ Or people ask where do you recommend to get 10 miles in, something like that. It’s a fun interaction.”

The Run Leelanau Instagram page is filled with beautiful views of deep blue skies edged with the warm glow of sunrises or sunsets, crystal clear woods, trails and all the breathtaking beauty that inspires love and wonder.

“So I’ve been running for about 20 years and I’ve always really enjoyed it. About my five years ago my husband and I moved from Traverse City to Leelanau County, we bought a house out here. I really really really just enjoyed being out here and running in this beautiful, scenic area. I was taking a lot of photos while I was out running and thought that a lot of the other people in the community would appreciate these running spots and want to know about some cool areas to do that too.”

She may have started the page after moving to Leelanau County, but Jennifer has been running since adolescence.

“I was about 12 years old. I had a cousin who was older than me, she was in high school and was a big runner. She was on a cross country team and track. I thought that was the coolest thing.”

Jennifer is still going into work every day, but she has found solace in her running practice now more than ever. Getting out into nature for her has been an escape from reality and she wants others to experience the same freeing feelings that have inspired her to maintain the habit for so long.

The last time I tried to ‘get into running’ I failed miserably. It was a few March’s ago and my ears ached, nose ran and breath didn’t catch up with me for an hour after. To runners everywhere, my hats off to you. Maybe I smoked one too many cigarettes in high school, but I struggle with running big time and if you’re anything like me, that can be discouraging.

“It can be so discouraging. If you can walk pretty easily you can run. Don’t set high expectations for yourself. Say, ‘well I’m going to do a mile today, whether that’s running half of it and walking the other or doing intervals, like running for 30 seconds and then walking for a few minutes. I remember years ago training for my first 10k, which is 6.2 miles and thinking, ‘who could run that long straight?’ and then I did it.”

If you’re interested in running, remember to go easy on yourself starting out and check out Run Leelanau. Some of Jennifer’s favorite trails for getting out and about during isolation are the Leelanau TART trail, The Leelanau State Park in Northport offers a more intermediate challenge and the Whaleback Natural Area is a short but advanced trail for more regular runners. Jennifer is always open to directing runners of all skills in the right direction for how best to explore the beauty of Leelanau.

“So I’m still working. I also work for Munson. But, the amount of free time I have you know, all my other hobbies have basically been canceled. I find work is more stressful than usual right now, so I’ve increased my running to really help me deal with that stress, but the mental health benefits have really, really been beneficial from running.”


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Categories: GTPulse