Slouched in front of a glowing laptop screen, I’m like a moth to the flame. The vapid depths of social media—the most insidious extension of the outdoor industrial complex—have their claws in me. Somebody, somewhere is achieving the incredible today. They’re skiing deep powder high in the Wasatch. They’re setting the fastest known time on a classic local test of endurance like the WURL. Even if what I’m seeing is a fabricated, curated existence, the pangs of FOMO are real. Utah can be cruel to the unambitious.
The burnout often associated to the economic uncertainty, mountains of debt and the gig economy has found its way into our outdoor passions. Exercise has transformed into training. Performance trackers log our every move. The simplicities of camping have been crushed under the weight of #vanlife and #glamping excesses. Utah is overflowing with elite athletes and lifestyle influencers. More power to them and anyone else seeking to reach their personal limit or live their dreams. But for those who need to take a moment to slow down, enjoy Utah and rediscover the joy of recreation, here are some ways to avoid recreational burnout in Utah.
Ditch the Data
Performance trackers are effective training tools, but for the recreationalist they can add anxiety to what should be stress-reducing activities like jogging and biking. Whether you’re feeling light as a feather with the Chariots of Fire theme playing in your head or feel like you’re plodding through quicksand, you don’t need digital affirmation or judgement on your wrist. The important thing is you’re sweating outside, a small victory to relish every time. Lose yourself among the trees on the Pipeline trail in Millcreek Canyon or admire the dramatic Wasatch Ridgeline from the sidewalks of downtown SLC. Just take off the smart watch, and immerse yourself in your surroundings for a while.
Race Against Yourself
Speaking of jogging, the storied 5k race is an annual, visceral referendum on your fitness. Take the real-time, performative competitive- ness out of it by trying a virtual race. The Salt Lake City Cinco De Mayo Virtual Race is a 5k race you can run any time during May 2020. When you sign up for the race, organizers will send you instructions about how to log your miles and your time. You still get a race medal, bib and schwag, but you won’t have to stress over not feeling your best on a Saturday morning while being intimidated by a legion of steely-eyed competitors wearing neon compression leggings. Cinco De Mayo Virtual 5k: virtualrunevents.com
Seek Out Community
I don’t know who coined the term, “No Friends on a Powder Day,” but that guy—he was certainly a guy—probably didn’t have friends any other days either. Being outside and active is sim- ply more fun when the experience is shared with others. Finding a welcoming, supportive group of like-minded people is a great way to enhance your passions without turning them into cutthroat endeavors. The Beau Collective in Park City is unique, non-traditional gym that combines high intensity interval training with happy hour, social events and a refreshing lack of self-seriousness. At BeauCo, you’ll get varied, great workouts, but trade overwrought motivational tactics for cocktails and local camaraderie. If the thought of sweating indoors makes you cringe, find a social outdoor group. Meetup.com is home to a massive database of outdoor groups for all types of people. In approximately two minutes on the site, I found a women’s- only running group, SLC Trail Running Ladies; a camping group for people over 50 out of Midvale, Mature Campers; and a long-distance cycling group, SLC Bicycle Touring and Bike-packing. Most of the groups are free to join, and they’re a great way to build community around the activities you enjoy. Beau Collective: 7132 Silver Creek Rd., Park City, 435-729-9245, thebeaucollective.com Meetup.com
Learn Something New
The constant pursuit of excellence has the potential to rob recreational activities of unadulterated joy. Nothing will reset your expectations like trying something novel, allowing you to fall in love with the process, not the end goal. Take stand up paddle boarding (SUP) for instance. Those new to SUP will likely find the combination of balance, strength and flexibility atop a small, unstable vessel rather challenging, but the enjoyment of serenely cruising along the water in incredible landscapes will make the inevitable capsizing worth it. You can even take things up a notch by trying out SUP yoga with Park City SUP to add another element of athleticism and mindfulness to learning something new. No matter if it’s SUP, target archery, bike-packing or something even more obscure, embracing your inner novice will keep recreational burnout at bay. Park City SUP: 1375 Deer Valley Dr., Park City, 801-558-9878, parkcitysup.com