5 Lessons From the Trail - BRANWYN | Performance Innerwear

5 Lessons From the Trail

Explore hard-won wisdom from women who have blazed their own trails (literally). 

What compels us to get outside and feel the pleasure of the wind on our cheeks, the sun crisping our shoulders, the sweet sting of pebbles caught in our shoes? Even when the bed sounds comfy and the couch looks good, the trails have a way of calling our name.

Maybe it’s because somewhere inside we know what’s good for us. Science shows that time spent in nature has a litany of benefits. According to studies in the National Library of Medicine, the outdoors can help improve our focus and concentration, lower stress levels, enjoy better mental health, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, amp up cognitive abilities, boost mood, and more. That’s all on top of the physical strength that builds after a good hike, cross-country ski, or mountain bike climb. 

Working up a sweat outside also teaches us lessons that carry through to other parts of our lives. We asked some remarkable women close to BRANWYN what they’ve learned on the trail. Read on for some serious inspiration.


Rue Mapp from Outdoor Afro poses in the woods BRANWYN In the Wild Blog
credit:  Bethanie Hines

1. Progress is made through persistence and presence.

Every step I take on a hiking trail mirrors the journey of life itself. Solo hikes, in particular, can be overwhelming. Without the distractions of others, it’s just me, my breath, my heartbeat, and the wind in my face. The challenges of rugged terrain teach me resilience and the importance of perseverance. 

When climbs seem endless and the summit feels so distant, I remind myself that reaching my destination is achieved one step at a time. It’s crucial not to dwell on the remaining distance but to embrace each step, focusing on the journey itself rather than the challenges ahead. In these moments, hiking, like life, teaches me that progress is made through persistence and presence. — Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro  


Sasha Wolff from Still I Run runs through the forest BRANWYN In the Wild Blog

2. I can tap into an inner strength.

Trail running has helped me develop more resilience and grit than I ever thought possible. There's just something about physically pushing my limits and digging deep that has strengthened my mental muscles. Now, in tough situations, I can tap into an inner strength I gained from navigating the ups, downs, twists, and turns of dirt-packed or rocky trails. Those experiences have taught me that sometimes the hardest journeys lead to the most rewarding destinations. — Sasha Wolff, Still I Run 


Kimberly Clay from Play Like a Girl at a flag football match BRANWYN In the Wild Blog

3. I learned that I can do hard things.

Growing up in the rural south, I spent most of my childhood outdoors. It provided a healthy and safe way for me to overcome challenges. As I worked to overcome the obstacles before me, I learned that I can do hard things. 

I’m still reminded of this on a hot 100-degree day in Dallas when I’m trying to complete the last mile of my daily walk. To stay motivated, I celebrate my successes and accomplishments with mental high fives, an ice-cold bottle of water, and a reassuring "Girl, you did that!"

I’ve even learned to slow down, focus less on time and celebrate the distance traveled. At age 48, I’ve learned to look behind me on a hard trail just climbed to see how far I have come and celebrate the fact that I finished. That’s also how I approach life and work. And, when I don’t have the physical stamina to do it alone, I go deeper and remind myself that there’s nothing too hard for God. — Dr. Kimberly S. Clay, Founder and CEO of Play Like a Girl


Jen Lofgren from Casting for Recovery holds fish BRANWYN In the Wild Blog

4. None of the little things I worry about really matter.

Whenever I start to feel twisted, my mind racing, or overwhelmed with life, I know I need to get outside. Being in nature, I find peace, balance, and a sense of calm that I cannot achieve anywhere else. I breathe better outside. All of my senses feel more alive. 

Water, trees swaying in the wind, freshly mown grass, birds singing, a towering mountain, sunflowers leaning towards the sun—all of it fills me with hope, gratitude, and wonder. It reminds me that none of the little things I worry about really matter in the grand scheme of things. It makes me feel more right-sized. I’ve heard people say that nature is their church, and that is certainly the case for me. — Jen Lofgren, Sr. Program Manager for Casting for Recovery

Claire Smallwood from SheJump skiing in the woods BRANWYN In the Wild Blog

5. Keep forward momentum.

We've all been there before: the trail gets hard, and perhaps our hiking partner is far ahead or you're hiking alone. For me, my brain starts trying to convince me to take more breaks. All of a sudden, I've got my phone out, and I'm taking photos or stopping to enjoy the view. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with this, when I'm trying to get to the top of something (or catch up with someone), I try to remind myself to keep moving, even if it's microscopic. By continuing to move, even when I want to take a break, I'm maintaining forward momentum and still covering ground. It's a good ol' tortoise and the hare situation! So, take those breaks when you need them and also remind yourself to just put one foot in front of the other! — Claire Smallwood, Executive Director, SheJumps

credit: Nicole Friend

BONUS: Our nuggets of wisdom from the great outdoors. 

Sometimes life lessons come in bite-sized pieces too. Here are some of our President Deanne Buck’s favorite nuggets of wisdom, gained from hundreds of miles of blood, sweat, tears, and laughter on the trails.

  • You can’t run faster until you’ve run faster. 
  • When cross-country skiing there is wisdom to know when to break trail and when to jump into existing tracks. Breaking trail builds endurance and gives me the confidence to take the scenic route or grab the fresh snow. It is usually smoother under ski than trying to follow in someone else’s track. 
  • On the days when I don’t feel like getting outside or my legs feel like I am plodding through two feet of mud and I DO IT ANYWAY. Those are the days when I am a runner.
  • Climbing, as in life, is about 3 things: The what, the where, and the who. If you focus on the WHO first and always, what and where take care of themselves.
  • Bringing a rain jacket ensures a bluebird day.
  • Wildlife is meant to be seen, not encountered.
  • Set your own summits.
  • At the crest of the climb pick up your pace (rather than stopping to catch your breath). Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • Invest in a full climbing rack. Know how to read a map and a topo. Take the avalanche safety course. Own your experience.
  • Focus on where you want to go, not what you are trying to avoid.
  • Underwear matters. . . A LOT (my fav? the Busty 💛)
  • Everything's better with a dog.

What are your favorite lessons from the trail? We’d love to hear them! Let us know at @branwynoffical or email us any time info@branwyn.com.

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