Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trail Running is Better than Road Running

So Saturday I went out with my new running group again, the Santa Monica Mountain Goats. Man, I tell you what; this trail running thing is kind of a completely different thing. So I thought I would discuss it here.

Originally I was going to skip the trail run this week, because I wanted to get in a 17-mile long run as I build up for the marathon. Two weeks ago I did 15. I figured I needed a flat run to get in the miles. But then this week's trail was announced, and the hills didn't look quite as bad. And then my friend Julia agreed to come run with me (she is also doing Boston). And so I said, hell, let's just do 17 on the trails - go slow - call it an endurance test!

So that's what we did. And it was fabulous. Here is the Garmin link:

17 miles, 2430 feet elevation. Averaged 9:11 pace.

When I finished I was tired, but not exhausted. I had spent over 2 1/2 hours going up and down some pretty big hills, and yet I felt much better than after my flat 15 two weeks ago. Why is that?

Well, the mindset goes to a totally different place. On my flat road/bikepath runs, I tend to get into a (relatively) fast gear and keep it there. I focus on maintaining pace. No matter how "easy" the plan, I still have the watch on, and I want the time to be good, so I'm working.

On the trail (actually this run was all fire road, basically a dirt road), pace is not important. It starts off with brutal uphill so I'm going slow and just taking what my body can give me. On the downhills I focus on form, and enjoy the plentiful oxygen. Also, the beautiful views and abundant nature makes it easier to lose myself in the moment. It's more of a true fun run!

On the flats, the cement and asphalt has gotta be harder on everything, and on the long runs that extra impact really builds up. On the trails, that problem goes away. In fact the extra work that the ankles and achilles have to do with the uneven surface and the elevation probably keeps the legs fresher.

If I get tired on the roads, I just talk myself into hanging in there and getting to the next water stop. Walking any other time is shameful and to be avoided! On the trails, it is perfectly OK to stop and walk on a hill. I can listen to my body and respond to it more naturally and rationally. I give myself more permission on the trails.

So I will be doing more of this fun stuff. And maybe I can bring some of the trail sensibility to my other runs too.

HERE are some pics from the run.

No comments:

Post a Comment