- If you’re stuck in a running rut, where you’re bored, unmotivated, or just plain not running for no-good-reason, try trail running.
- If you want to put a challenge into your running, but don’t really want to increase the miles, try trail running.
- If you need a great excuse to get outside with your family and explore the parks of your region, try trail running.
- If you like setting a goal for yourself by signing up for a running event, but hate the huge price tag that comes with larger events, try trail running.
- If you’re sick of running the same old routes for your long runs on the weekend (or even your short runs), try trail running.
If you’ve ever thought about tackling or trying an official trail run,
The above series of “if’s” describe my situation a few months ago. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t run, not even a couple of miles, since my half marathon in late November. It took being laid up due to a tooth extraction to motivate me to sign up for a future race. I suppose even just a day or so of being “immobilized” was all the push I needed.
As a newbie to trail running, I did my best to prepare for the half marathon run, running the easier arboretum trails near our house during the week, and choosing tougher, hillier trails for my long run on the weekends.
When I lined up at the start on Sunday, I was nervous. At the same time though, I was confident. Confident because I knew what to expect. The previous weekend, I scoped out the course, so the challenging, never-ending hills with 2700 feet of elevation were no surprise to me.
With plenty of time to think as I traveled through the great trees and bright greens, I came to a few realizations:
Mile 1 & 2: Trail Runners walk. I read about this previously, but I had to see it for myself to fully believe. At times, it’s just more efficient and faster to hike up a tough hill rather than run.
Mile 3 & 4: It’s important to train for the race/run conditions. Knowing the course would be uphill for nearly half of the run, I focused on hills a lot during my training. I also feel like pushing the jogging stroller during training was a huge boost for my strength. Without the extra weight of the stroller to push, I feel so much more open and free making the hills feel less daunting.
Mile 5 & 6: Dress for the part: 20 degrees warmer than air temperature. Just a few days before the big half marathon, my husband Slaed picked up this piece of advice from a radio commercial of all places. With temperatures in the low 60’s, I chose running shorts and a tank top. Sure it was chilly waiting around for the run to start, but I was almost immediately comfortable while others ended up having to tie jackets around their waist.
Mile 7 & 8: Run with water. Before this half marathon training, I had never really run with water. If I run with the stroller, sometimes I stash some since it’s easy to carry, but otherwise, I would just plan a route with water fountains. On road race days, I knew aid stations would be there for me regularly, so I never had to worry. Trail running is a different story. There are no water fountains on the trails. With only 2 aid stations throughout the course, I prepared by toting water via a handheld carrier.
Mile 9 & 10: Downhill running is taxing. Light, shorter steps are best. Sure, uphill climbs can be downright torturous, but after awhile the downhill wears me down. Breathing is easier, but I feel like my mind has to be engaged much more to keep aware of roots, rocks, and other obstacles on the trail and keep my speed in check. In my training, I found that if I went down hills too fast, the pounding with each step traveled all the way up to my head, neck and shoulders leaving me with a headache for the rest of my run. During the half marathon run, I tried my best to stay light on my feet with shorter, quicker steps. Tougher to do as people start passing me by, but better for the body in the end.
Mile 11, 12 & 13.1: Trail Running takes a lot longer than road running, but what a thrill to finish! I knew trail running would be harder than road running, but I didn’t realize how much more time (conditions pending) it takes to run a mile on the trail compared to a mile on the road. I’m not entirely sure of my finish time, but I think I came in at about 2 hours and 45 minutes, compared to just over 2 hours for my road race last November. The scenery of the trail run, time spend outdoors surrounded by nature away from the cars and busyness, and the feeling of accomplishment made that extra 45 minutes truly worth the effort.
Are you a trail runner? What do you love about it? Thinking of giving trail running a try? What’s motivating you?
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