I. am. tired. Maybe I am getting too old for this hard run, hard run again, then hard yoga stuff. Actually, ideally I would not do two hard back to back workout days, but like most of the workforce, I do it out of necessity since the other 5 days of the week require me to be somewhere early. Throw a Jasper swimming lesson in there and bouncy gym and playground trips and it’s really no surprise I feel like I was run over by a truck.
Another weekend spend avoiding the heat, and another weekend slowly working my way towards a marathon. My runs went well, but took a little more out of me than normal thanks to a mild cold. Today was another run at Walnut Creek so I thought it would be appropriate for some trail running tips. This is all just my opinion, and I know others maybe disagree…but here goes:
1. It’s really not that big of a deal. In my high school days of running I ran on trails all the time and thought nothing of it. I didn’t have special shoes or any special gear. The same should really apply today. I’ve tried various trail shoes and always have come back to my road shoes for comfort. I really like using trail running shoes for hiking, since I just do day hikes, but every long run I’ve attempted in them has me changing into road shoes at some point. Yes, the trail shoes may have more tread, and that might be helpful, but that tread is useless if your feet hurt. No need for special trail socks either, although you may want to avoid white just because everything gets so dirty.
I also never have found that I use a “special technique” to run on trails. Sure, you may find your hips a little more sore since trails with a lot of ups and downs seem to use these muscles, but I just run. After a couple runs, those hips muscles will get used to it (mine still aren’t and I can tell I will be a little sore tomorrow).
2. Well, maybe there is just a little bit of special equipment after all. The only thing you will really need is a way to carry water, especially if it is hot where you live. For runs of 90 minutes or less I am fine with a bottle, over that I use a Camelbak. I wear a kid’s model that holds 32 ounces of water, which works just fine for me. Camelbaks are a pain to clean no matter how you slice it. I really do get used to mine though, and when I use it, I tend to not even really notice it. The kid’s model was much less expensive too. They are a good investment though because I now use mine for hiking too and biking (although it’s been all trainer rides for now. The other thing is if you run before dawn you will need a light. I prefer a headlamp for the hands free factor. Yep, you’ll look like a total dork. But they aren’t too expensive if you camp at all you will use it then. It’s also not too uncomfortable. Just make sure to check the batteries frequently. A dim light is no fun.
3. All trails are real trails. I know a lot of folks who would disagree with me on this, but just pick the trail you want to run on and enjoy it. Trail running clubs go for the super, rocky hard stuff, and kinda poo-poo smooth, easy trails. I personally love a smooth easy trail, and I still feel it works muscles road running doesn’t.
4. Toss times out the window. No matter how fast you think you are going, you will run slower. Especially if you run in the dark with a headlamp. It’s all relative, because you will still feel like the run was hard. I have friends who just can’t do the trail thing because they can’t stand how much slower they are. Then there are other people who prefer it because they have no desire to push the pace and the trail naturally allows you to do that.
5. Finally, check out your local urban trails. I have barely run trails at all since I had Jasper since I just don’t have time to drive 30-45 minutes to go run. Walnut Creek is in an urban park, and isn’t exactly wilderness, but there are 15+ miles of trail there. Urban trails are a good way to get the feeling of escapism without all the effort of going to a state park or something.
So there you go….just my opinion. Keep in simple…and no one should go alone in the dark on a trail. Oh….and if you want your dog to experience pure bliss, take them on a trail run. It’s like looking directly at dog heaven. Just plan on getting out the doggie shampoo when you get home. Trails can be messy.