When it comes to jogging in the gym o’ mother nature, awareness is key.

That’s if you want to come home in a better stat than – or at least the same as – when you left the house. If you’re not careful, roots can trip you, branches can stab you, and so on. And that’s why I love it. It forces me into awareness. If I’m having an otherwise mindless day, the moment my foot hits the earth, I’m scanning the entire world in 4D – from the terrestrial carpet below that could harbor venomous squiggly sticks, to the octupal monsters suspended in a net at head height.

(My jogging anthem sounds so much sweeter when Gwen sings it.)

The former, fortunately, are easier for me to spot and thus avoid. Even the camo-colored reptiles have a shiny reflective quality in the most dismal of days. But the latter group I find to be far more dangerous because being sneaky is part of their whole gig. The idea is to create a giant invisible trap for their meals to fall into. But in the process, I too will often end up on the dinner menu. Or, ya know, just end up playing daycare to multitudinous orphaned egg babies (yes, this happened) and not realize it until I get home and have to torch my clothes, take a brillo pad and clorox shower, and then schedule a total skin transplant surgery with my doctor

But I suppose the fairy spirits of the forest have bewitched me.

Because I somehow love these excursions more than I fear the bug abominations intermittently perverting them. My outdoor jog’s the only sacred part of my day. Thus, what I’m trying to develop is a special set of Big Bad Wolf skills to keep these little piggies off my face. The basics begin with looking constantly for eye level sun-glistening reflections of any kind – and quickly determining the structure and angle of it to where I’m headed.

Then I morph into John Nash with a matrix of physics formulas falling beore my eyes.

Where is that main part of the web? Where is the actual spider? Is the main part of the web connected to the left tree or the right tree? All of these questions and answers take place immediately in my temporarily beautiful mind (somehow still capable of scanning for snakes and darting deerfly like a defensive sentient supercomputer). But every so often, I reach that one formula I have trouble cracking. That one web I just… can’t.

So when it comes to determining whether to battle it hardcore, simple, or do the moonwalk in reverse all the way back to the street while repeating the “Nope” mantra, it all depends on the same thing as real estate: location.

No two webs are the same, though.

Which is why I’ve been building a catalog of weaponry for web-hackery:

Method 1: Quick Punch

A simple method – if it’s a single bugless string not near to the actual web.

If it’s near a web, though, you can expect a wolverine style retaliation to happen. Otherwise, karate chop that ish – or if it’s low enough, I just pretend it’s like a milestone finish line ribbon arbitrarily placed in the middle of my run. But here’s where the aforementioned awareness comes in: make sure it’s just a bridge. If you’re not looking left or right, unbeknownst to you, the ginormous web it’s connected to could come crashing against you. Usually they’re anchored to a nearby, sturdier tree so that they don’t have to do too much work resurrecting the main part of their trap when douchebags like you or me come through, demolishing their home. But every once in a while, that too-near web falls the wrong way and I find myself in a torturous yo-yo performance that culminates with me temporarily levitating to clap the soles of my feet in mid air.

(When necessary.)

Method 2: Kickboxing

A little more of an energy spender.

But you know what they say – better the shoe than the hand.

Actually, no one says that.

What they do say is to mix up your workout routine. And what better method could there be than by karate chopping down a neighborhood of spider domiciles one by one, while pretending you’re godzilla and singing ♪“Little boxes made of sticky string…”? You can get a bit o’ variety and end up sans sticky bug butt thread all over you.

Or the monster from whence it came.

Or its egg babies. *PTSD shudder*

Method 3 BYOB – Bring your own sticks!

Use tree-arms instead of your own when the web’s too tough to navigate!

(Just make sure to make note of joggers behind you – or else you’re both effed.)

I found this light-bulb idea from a hilarious jogger blogger who spoke to my heart when he talked about doing “trail clearing duty” on those early riser mornings. (Are we really early risers? Or are those little motherfluffers just THAT quick at rebuilding ground zero after we cardio terrorize them down?) I can relate and a half to this one, because while the above methods I use work wonders for the Scooby Doo level webs, there’s always that one creature who cashed in on some prime real estate, sitting at the perfect angle to make it impossible for me to see which silken anchor I can kick or punch without winning the hellish door prize of eight legs making me its new home (since I destroyed its original one). The last time I got to one such particular guy, he started doing the chest-pat thing and puffing up it up pre-fight pageantry style.

Every time, I look at him and say, “I ain’t scared! I’m just, ya know, TIRED of paving the way for all the later joggers” Then I leave. And then I schedule a later run for the next day.

On another planet.

But what the author suggested seems excellent – just bring a small branch, use it to knock stuff down, and voila. No personal limbs need be sacrificed and you can drop the whole thing if you end up with an unexpected tag-along like some nightmare fishing line.

Method 4: Buddy system!

You know that guy who always wants to go out with you? And you “can’t find the time”?

Invite him on a jogging date!

So he can do involuntary trail clearing duty!

Finally, here’s a method with the least amount of energy you could ever hope to expend.

It’s not very nice, but when something the size of your face is hanging in between you and serenity hour, all bets are off. Even a stick won’t do. Too much risk involved. That’s why you can either invite someone eager to hang out with you or even just coerce a competitive friend to join (maybe threaten their abilities by prodding at their ego). And then, once you’re on the trail, stay a pace or twelve behind. This is a kind of reverse-mentality to the zombie apocalypse friend you’d want (slower guy gets eaten – so make friends with and keep at least one fatty in your apoco-pack). But in this case, the faster guy gets eaten – making it more like the tortoise and the hare. In this race, slow ain’t a problem. I’ll beat you on the race track later, homie.

But out here, he who arrives with the least face spiders… wins.

That’s all.

For now.