Trail running is not my thing. For one thing, trails around here tend to be technical and require an acute sense of awareness between body and surface; a skill I’ve not honed given my clumsy nature. Add in a history of numerous sprained ankles, and I’m pretty much a running hazard. Thus, I’ve done most of my running on concrete and consciously avoided trails. Following my injury, I’d been advised to avoid concrete and have been dutifully logging my miles on the softer surfaces of local tracks. However, my long runs are now longer than five miles, making running around in circles pretty tedious. Plus, with Summer in full session, running around the track means getting scorched by the hot sun due to lack of shade.
This past Thursday, my friend Sarah and I had a 5:30 am running date on the trails. My excitement levels were so high the night before, I kept waking up every hour for fear of oversleeping! The run was as as challenging as I expected it to be. Every muscle, joint, tendon, and ligament in my body was constantly working as my legs and body maneuvered and shifted uphill, downhill, and around switchbacks. The elevation made an imposing presence on my lungs and made it more difficult for my nostrils to take in oxygen.
Because we had to make it back home for both our husbands to make it to work on time, we managed to cover 4.75 miles in an hour; .25 miles short of our targeted five miles. Normally, it takes 24-48 hours post-workout for me to feel the effects of physical exercise, but as soon as I sat in my car, my quads, hamstrings, calves, and ankles were pretty sore! My Thursday was definitely off to a great a start, and I knew I would come back again for more!
Nuun Hydration put together a virtual 5k/10k/ride race to benefit Girls on the Run and I chose the 10k, which coincidentally aligned with a scheduled 6 mile long run. Even better, the run landed on what is perhaps the best day of the entire year – INDEPENDENCE DAY! Once again, I headed towards the trails, but this time, I went alone – a first for me. This 10k wasn’t only to log 6.2 miles to cover the virtual requirements of the race, it was symbolic of my freedom and embracing all the blessings I have that millions of oppressed individuals around the world only imagine having. More specifically, I was running for all of the women around the world not allowed to drive, or are stoned to death for ludicrous accusations. My run was for little girls who do not have access to an education, and for women who can’t walk out of their homes without permission. Because I got really lost, and it took me longer than expected, I had a good amount of time to be thankful for my life, and was ever grateful my daughters were growing up in a country filled with so many opportunities.
I’m definitely adding trail running to my repertoire mix. It’s challenging both mentally and physically, and the trails are bursting at the seams with awesome views. Here are some things I have learned with only two measly trail runs under my belt:
1) I will get lost.
This is pretty much a given, since I get lost even walking around my neighborhood. Fortunately, the trails connect and eventually lead to the starting point.
2) Compression socks make a difference.
I started purchasing compression socks this past fall, when I registered for the Eugene Marathon, in order to help with recovery during the long runs. I decided to wear them during my long run on Saturday and they really helped protect my legs from tall grass, dust, dirt, and debris.
3) Trail running shoes matter.
I ran in the Gel Nimbus and the sole had minimal traction on the trail, which made for a slippery run. Looks like my husband is going to have to twist my arm so that I can purchase trail running shoes.
4) GPS apps/watches are unreliable.
I for both runs, I used my Garmin Forerunner 220, and my mapmyrun application on my iPhone. Both were off. This means that the joy of running will be more joyous if you don’t take technical stuff too seriously.
5) Deer and Antelope Roam
Nature will definitely be on fully display. While on my run, I ran into deer and antelope, and I’m certain I traversed hundreds of insects and other species of animals that I may have not seen but were definitely present. I may just have to carry some pepper spray to fend off from any animals that may attack me.
Are you a trail runner? What tips do you have for a novice like me?