I am nothing if not
pigheaded and stubborn doggedly determined. After last week’s less-than-stellar showing at the She Rocks the Trails race, I decided that trail running is my new “thing.” I can and will and must turn myself into the sort of runner who can go up and down steep hills, leap over rocks and be undeterred by wild animal poop.
Here is a list of reasons why I haven’t previously considered trail running to be a viable option for me:
- It’s really freakin’ hard.
- I have to get in my car and drive far away to run trails. Unless you count the 1/4-mile dirt path near my house as a trail, which I don’t.
- There are wild animals out there. And they are wild. And that scares me.
- Nature is full of bugs that seem to want to do nothing so much as fly into my hair and get stuck there.
- The likelihood of me getting lost goes up exponentially as soon as I step off the sidewalk.
- I can’t listen to my iPod (okay, yes, technically I can listen to music, it’s just that it’s a really, really bad idea – I would like to hear the wild animals or mountain bikers before they trample me)
- HILLS. ‘Nuff said.
- It’s dirty.
I’m sure there are plenty of you reading this and thinking that it sounds like a list of PROs, not CONs, and someday I hope to count myself among your number. For now, though, I’m still at the learning to love it stage.
UltraIronHubs and I set off very early this morning for some “easy” trails up in Folsom. I was on my feet and he was on his mountain bike because of his stupid plantar fasciitis. The weather was absolutely fantastic, low 50s and a little bit cloudy (where was this weather when I needed it last Saturday??) with a cool wind. The terrain in Folsom is rolling foothills, with some steep-ish climbs and descents, but nothing too crazy. We ran mostly on fire roads and wide trails, with maybe a mile or so total of single-track thrown in. Altogether a perfect newbie route.
If I’m being really honest with myself (and you, apparently), I think the thing that is most difficult about trail running is the fact that I have to really pay attention to it. I’m not so much with the “paying attention” thing. When I run on roads, I’m free to think my thoughts and just sort of let my legs do their thing. My city is built on a North-South-East-West grid, so getting lost would take some real effort on my part. On the trails, though, I have to pay attention to everything – every step, every turn, every fork in the path, every rustle in the bushes. And what really freaks me out is that even when I think I’m totally paying attention, as soon as I turn around to go back the whole trail looks completely different!
All told, I ran about ten and a half miles today with about 400 feet of climbing and descent. My pace was what I will henceforth consider my normal “trail pace” (as opposed to my “road pace,” which is faster. Oh, well.). I had a great time and I can definitely see making trail runs part of my regular training.
What’s your feeling about trail running – love it or leave it?