Long distance trail runner and artist Ava Reynolds loves running more than anything else, but Wyoming weather doesn’t make it easy. Around this time every year temperatures drop dramatically, and snow covers the trails making it hard to get motivated to keep training. However, Ava’s creativity comes into her training plan, and she finds ways to keep running anyways. Squeezing in a sunrise trot or strapping on a headlamp and heading out at night helps her keep it consistent. And most importantly, Ava asks friends to join her. Some days they face the mountain trails despite the snow and some days, pushed off the trails by powder, they gather to run a grid on the inner streets of Jackson in the shape of a waffle. Afterwards, obviously, the group eats waffles together.
Here's a bit more about Ava and her distance running journey:
“I started running with a purpose about three years ago when I was in college. I was in a place where I wanted a better relationship to my body. I’d dabbled in it before and felt the benefits of its meditative elements. I wanted to push myself to commit to a training plan, so I signed up for a half marathon.
My favorite long distance run I’ve ever done was the first time that I ran the Teton Crest Trail which is a 42-mile trail that winds through the Tetons. Building up to something that big was exciting and building a community around it was even better. It was just incredible to start the day in the dark in the mountains and to end the day also in the dark still in the mountains. During a full day in the high alpine your brain gets to focus on such a unique environment and feel so removed from the daily stresses of life. And it just felt great to just achieve that goal! I went into it not knowing if I’d be able to do it, so finishing it and finishing it confidently was awesome.
I try to run all year because in the summer when it’s prime running season for me I make more and more goals and get more and more excited about big runs to dream up, and I don’t want to lose that base that I’ve built from a training perspective. Also, the benefits of running are so mental and emotional too for me. I don’t think anything that I’ve tried in the winter really substitutes how it feels to run – to develop that kind of breath and thinking pattern and go into that flow state of mind. I don’t want to lose it in the winter.
I stay warm by layering up – I have a good set of layers that I rely on heavily. The little things – gloves, a neck warmer, earmuffs are super important for me to be set up for success before I start. I also often wear my running tutu for fun.
One of my favorite parts about running is the way it makes my thought patterns occur. It really does feel like its own form of therapy and meditation. Recently I’ve been grateful for the communities I’ve built around running too. I’ve never really had that because I didn’t do track or cross country growing up, so finding people who get really excited about big runs in the mountains or little runs around the neighborhood like our waffle runs has been a true joy to experience in the past couple of years.
Next summer I’d love to continue to find more of a community of trail runners in this area who are not necessarily interested in running fast but who just want to get out and about. I would also really love to focus on doing some big runs in the Wind River Range and travel to run the Timberline trail around Mt Hood or try to do a two-day run on the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier.
To someone who is thinking about getting into long distance running, I’d encourage them to start small and push through the challenges because there will be good runs and bad runs. That’s part of running – the bad runs build muscle and character and help you get through the bad parts of long runs. If it’s something you’re interested in just stick with it. I really believe that anyone who wants to do that kind of distance can if they put their mind to it with enough training, determination, and excitement. You don’t need to be fast to run far.”