Trail Running Chronicles – Volume 1

So here it begins …

I have spent the past 6 years looking for the sweet spot in endurance sports. The one thing that clicks with me and forces me forward. It started out as cycling, which then progressed to triathlons with some running thrown in for good measure. All of those things still interest me, and excite me, but something more was needed … a change … something new to motivate me to do things I never thought I could do …

My coach had brought up “timed events” a while ago. But when I thought about running for 6, 10, 12 hours straight it was just too overwhelming for me. As a reader of this blog you know my issues with running. It is not that I can’t run, or that I am not fit enough to run. I am. My issue comes with my body not being able to cope with the strain of running. Some, or most, of this is still due to my weight, and I recognize that, but a good portion is also due to my psoriatic arthritis, past knee surgery, and, well, not so my my age but more of the years I wasted sitting on my ass everyday after work and on the weekends.

So when she brought up a 100-mile run, my first instinct was to laugh it off. But then I stated thinking about it more. 100 miles in 48 hours. was that doable? To use up every second of that 48 hours would mean a 28:44 mile pace. Can I run faster than that? Yes I can. But can I do it for 40+ hours??

Ah. There’s the rub.

What it will take is single minded focus on the goal. To the point that nothing can get in the way of the miles I need to put in. Not work. Not friends. Work will always be there, and if friends (not that I have many anyway) can’t understand then it’s best to let them go.

I started training in earnest two weeks ago. By that I mean I started running on trails. I have trail running shoes now, and working on the rest, but needed to get out and see what it felt like to be on trails vs. pavement. I scoped out a few that were close to my home, and one Saturday morning got up, put them on, and headed to it. I only did 2 miles (an out and back). what did I discover from just this small effort?

Being in the woods is so  much better than running along a road or on pavement.

It was slower, yes, but not really much slower than I normally run. What the difference was that my feet did not hurt and even the next day I was able to function with minimal issues.

This past weekend I ran 3 miles Friday (pavement), 3.2 miles Saturday (pavement), 10.1 miles Christmas Day (trail/pavement), and 3.5 miles Monday (trail). The 10 miler got me. I was hurting by the time I got back to car, and actually pulled a blister on the bottom of right foot (I never get blisters there), but as a friend pointed out, a lot of this was not on “trail” but on pavement through the trail. I was also wearing a new kind of sock I wanted to try. lessons learned. Even with the sore feet and blister, going out the next day at Little Wekiva in Sanford I found that I could still walk at a pretty decent pace and complete a good 3.5 miles in little to no pain.

I almost feel like I did when I first started triathlons and figured out some dieting truths; I want to shout it from the mountaintop. I find it amazing that anyone would choose a road course over a trail right now. I still have a half marathon on my schedule in January, but the road may never see me again to be honest. There is a calmness about being in the woods, power walking through trees, bushes, sugar sand, and swampy ground.

I feel like I am home …

So my first trail RACE is January 7th. A 25K in Croom.

Let’s see how this goes …


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