Skimo Co

4/30/2021 Why Trail Running Benefits the Youth

By Steven Glodowski, coach and owner of Practice Guild Mountain Athletics

Growing up I discovered that alpine running isn’t like other forms of running.

Sure, the physical act of one foot in front of the other is the same, but alpine running has the unique ability to take you to the most amazing places in the most personal way. Adventures often include incredible views, snow, sweat, heat, ice, and all manner of wild lives being lived around you. This is the world that your own two feet can empower you to visit.

But it’s not just your feet that give you the strength to go on such adventures - the heart, mind, and body are working as one. Your senses are ablaze, your mind is focused, and your heart is exuding love while giving you the courage to let the cold, height, speed, distance, and thirst flow through you.

When I was young, the mountains became my sanctuary where I spent countless hours of free time. It was here that I learned how to express myself, make friends, be there for others, and understand the implications of decision-making. Some consequences were painful while others resulted in irrepressible euphoria.

Now, as an adult, I have not only continued to run in the alpine, but I’ve also dedicated myself to the practice of coaching other alpine runners. Once my daughter was born, I recognized the need to also include young people in my coaching efforts. It was time to focus on giving a new generation their own opportunity to experience the same inspiring, life-changing adventures that I had at their age.

The adventures of running through the mountains are unending and the lessons compounding. For the youth this connection to nature is an indispensable experience, that is threatened due to modern life.

After all, the youth are so full of possibilities for their lives and every experience carries so much more weight in how it affects the trajectory of their lives. Because of this, the role of coach carries with it a responsibility that I take seriously.

As a coach, I have the opportunity to witness the blossoming of strength, skill, and wisdom. I see the light of wonder in their eyes when I take a group out on a deer trail that weaves through the forest, over ridges, and to hidden springs. I also see this blossoming when they work with diligence and passion to overcome a challenge or meet a goal. They are capable of more than they know and with encouragement, they challenge themselves, succeed, and grow in the process. This in itself is a valuable lesson.

One student, in particular, worked diligently and went from saying he’d never be able to run the west face of Grandeur Peak to running it to the top, adding in a second route, and then back to the trailhead. He was truly struck by how far his ability had come and told me that he had never been so tired but was able to keep finding the energy to continue that he never knew he had access to. This was one of those times when it was less about summiting a peak and much more about giving the opportunity for him to dig deep and to see something in himself that he did not know was there.

It really is a gift to see the growth and development of kids because their wisdom, skill, and strength are the future of the world. And to be able to help guide the youth in the ways of the mountains and open up worlds of possibility for them brings me a lot of joy.


Practice Guild Mountain Athletics (PGMA) was founded to share the experience of alpine running and provide an opportunity for the youth to grow their skill and strength in the mountains while being in the company of others who are in the same pursuit. More info can be found at


Related Products

Continued reading

Follow us on social media

View full screen version