I recently signed up for an 8-week trail run training program. I thought it would be pretty cool to get off the concrete, see some new sights, get some exercise and train for the Wild Moose Chase 10K trail run coming up on 9/29. (side note: I’m not crazy about the name of that run…I mean really, “Wild Moose Chase?’ Not enticing to a slow runner who is terrified of moose. )
Anyway, next Monday is Week 7 of the training program and, as a new trail runner, I have made some observations I’d like to share with anyone out there who might want to try out trail running.
OBSERVATION #1 – Trails are hilly. I don’t know why I pictured trail running like this: photo source here
Green, lush, soft dirt for my feet to pitter patter on. Hell no. The trails I have been running on look like this:
If you can’t tell by the pictures, this is some seriously rocky, hilly and steep terrain. My feet weren’t quite pitter-pattering on this stuff…they were more like galumphing.
OBSERVATION #2 – Trails are dirty. Sure, they’re made of dirt with a dash of basalt rock, but I didn’t know I would get so dirty. I came to the conclusion that if a runner is doing it right, at the end of their trail run, they will have a nice coating of dust around their ankles and legs. Maybe even some mud!! Nothing cuter that taking off your socks only to find a perfect dirt circle around your ankle. Kind of like an ankle bracelet from nature. And speaking of dirt, your shoes will get thrashed so don’t even think about trying to keep them looking clean. Trail running will take your shoes to a whole new level of dirtiness and smelliness.
OBSERVATION #3 – Trail running is harder than I thought. I assumed that since I have been running for the last couple of years, I would be in pretty spectacular shape (she wrote sarcastically). Well, not so much. Running on those trails, up those hills in 90+ degree heat was really hard. I was huffing and puffing as if I had never run before. My calves burned, my legs quivered and my sweating was profuse. I was a hot mess…literally.
OBSERVATION #4 – Trail running can have some dangerous elements to it so running in a group setting is the way to go. There is safety in numbers! We all have our little quirks and mine is being a runner with an over active imagination. I can’t help it. I could never run on trails alone because I would be worried about so many things. I’d worry about a deer or moose chasing me. I’d worry that a serial killer was lurking in the woods, stalking me until his moment of attack. I’d worry that I might stumble on the remains of said serial killer’s other victims. I’d worry about tripping, falling, breaking my leg and no one finding me for days or weeks. So, with that said, I believe running in a group, or with a buddy, is a safe bet (safer, at least).
OBSERVATION #5 – Trail running often translates to trail walking. As a beginner, I can tell you that I do a lot more walking/hiking than I do running. I kind of feel like I’m misleading you when I say I’ve been doing some trail running. Truth be told, when I go uphill, I walk. When I go downhill, I walk (only when it’s steep and rocky). I try not to get disappointed over the amount of walking I do because I’m new at this trail running business and I still have a lot to learn.
OBSERVATION #6 – Trail running can be hilly, dirty, hard and dangerous but let me tell you….trail running is also spectacular, rewarding, breathtaking and well worth the extra effort! Last week I completed a 5 mile trail run/walk/hike and when I got to the top of Eagle Peak, I completely forgot the challenges I experienced getting there! The panoramic view of the valley was amazing!
I made it to the top and was able enjoy the downhill run on the way back. Most importantly, I was proud of my trail running/walking/hiking accomplishment.
Anyone out there an experienced trail runner? I’ve got my big 10K trail run coming up and I’m a little nervous and could use your advice.