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  • Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

Don't Feel Like Running? Rake Leaves!

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

My favorite enjoyment of the autumn season is neither Halloween, nor Thanksgiving, nor pumpkin spice latte. In fact, I've never had a pumpkin spice latte (I don't drink coffee). What I enjoy the most in the fall is raking leaves. I love raking the fallen leaves from our huge maple trees. If I'm training for a fall running event, and even if I'm not training for one, I rake leaves.

We have over 40 trees on our property and a couple of massive maple trees. We also have a very big yard and a spacious lawn. We don't rake those leaves; instead, we mow the leaves over the grass. The article, Stop Raking Your Leaves!, suggests that simply going over all those leaves with a lawn mower adds good organic matter to the soil.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) points out that raking leaves is good cardio exercise that promotes good health. I agree. So far this autumn, I have raked leaves twice. Each time I spend 1.5 to 3 hours. I don't wear my FitBit when I rakes leaves so I'm not sure how many calories I burn or how many steps I've taken. Raking leaves is a time not worry about mileage and pace.

Like running, I find raking leaves very meditative. The physical, repetitive act of using my arms to achieve a goal - collecting piles of bright, dried yellow and brown leaves - rather than the physical, repetitive act of propelling my legs to cover distance allows me to rest my legs and feet, and workout my arms.

Raking and filling leaf bins and containers with autumn leaves is a goal not unlike achieving a training run goal. I can cover x amount of miles during a 3 hour run and I can fill x amount of leaf bins in the same amount of time.

Two massive maple trees and a pine tree serve as a natural canopy in our shady garden. I will rake it every weekend until the trees are completely bare. In about 30 minutes, my raking transforms the bright gold leaf filled garden into a bare winter garden waiting to be blanketed by the winter snow.

I rake parts of our property near the garden and the driveway. Dressed in running tights, a fleece running jacket, a head wrap, two pairs of running socks, gardening clogs, work gloves, sunglasses on a sunny day, and armed with two rakes, I began raking at 12:15 pm on a cold sunny Saturday under the blue sky as I listened to the whisper of the crunching leaves and the quiet roar of the gentle wind. By 1:45 pm I had filled 4 bins. Goal achieved. Work out done.

Take a break from running. Rake leaves to give your legs a break, exercise your upper body, go outdoors, cross train, clean your yard in an environmentally-friendly way, meditate, relax your mind, visualize crossing the finish at your next running event, and to rake your worries away. And you don't have to be a runner to rake leaves.

Copyright 2018

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