Monday, October 14, 2013

Trail Running Trial

Yesterday, I decided to go for a hike. It's been about a month since I completed my thru-hike and though I have been walking on roads and on beaches, running on asphalt and dirt, and doing bootcamp style workouts outdoors, I haven't been hiking. I miss it. I feel like something is missing from my life.

To tell the truth, my present workout regime, geared toward re-gaining what little speed I once had, isn't working out exactly the way I had planned. I hit the workouts hard and fast for about a week and a half. Then, all the problems that had plagued me during the last month or so of hiking started coming back. My toes started to get numb again. My body started to ache all over. And I was just SO TIRED!

I figured I needed to listen to my body and take things back a notch. I reduced the speed of my runs, I reduced the frequency of the boot camp workouts. I turned about half of the plyometric moves into low impact moves. I felt a little better.

But I missed hiking.

In southeastern Massachusetts, where I live, there are very few hills and absolutely nothing that would even remotely qualify as a mountain. The closest decent sized hill is about 45 minutes away at the Blue Hills Reservation. I was going to visit my brother and his family this weekend and decided to stop off and go for a hike on the way there and again on the way home.

He lives close to some conservation land where there are some trails and hills. I have a guidebook with suggested hikes rated as "mild", "moderate", and "strenuous." I decided on a strenuous hike, thinking that without a full pack, it would be pretty moderate.

I could not have been more correct! I wouldn't rate that hike as strenuous at all! It barely qualified as a hike. (I think 5 months of ridiculous terrain has skewed my perspective!) I mean, it was beautiful. (The foliage is in full swing and the leaves are falling in big drifts all around) It was relaxing. (Why is it so much easier to breathe in the woods?) It was good for the soul. (Hiking in the woods is like going to church. But better.) But strenuous? Not by a long shot. I was almost bored.

"I could actually run this trail!" I thought. And so I did.

I did not run fast. I did not run far. In sections where the rocks were loose or the soil was eroded, I switched to walking. But I did run.

And I fell in love.

I was never interested in trail running prior to this. I figured marathon training on the road was plenty. I kind of considered trail runners to be hard core lunatics with a thing for self torture.

Now I see how much I was missing out on.

Today I'm not sore or tired or numb. I'm just floating on a high that comes when you discover something totally wonderful and totally new. I'm looking up trails online. I'm planning more runs.

Trail running just seems good for the body, and good for the soul.

1 comment:

Carolina John said...

Oh, trail running is certainly good for the soul. It gets you connected to nature in a way that even hiking doesn't, because you have to be able to react so much faster to roots, rocks and other conditional attributes of the trail. It's incredibly cool.

I thought it would be wonderful to do an ultramarathon on trails last year, and it kind of was. it was also kind of stupid to try and run 40 miles on single track in under 10 hours. it may have changed my perspective.