This past weekend I didn’t just run, I went on a bit of an adventure. An epic trail running adventure, actually. For the more experienced and faster runners in the group it probably wasn’t quite so crazy but for me, a road runner at heart who is just beginning to dabble in trail running, it was definitely an adventure. A cold, wet, tiring, awesome adventure.
And as I sit here the day after with my compression-cloaked calves still aching and my bruises still smarting, I am reminded of just how new I am to this whole trail running thing. My poor quads are too sore to lift me out of this chair so I’m going to take a few moments and share some of the lessons I was made painfully aware of on my trail ‘run’ yesterday.
I’m not saying you should pack ‘heavy’ but you definitely shouldn’t skimp on stuff. It seems that trail running can be a little less predictable and it’s hard to know exactly what you might need. For example, I didn’t know it was even possible for gloved hands to get THAT wet and cold, a spare dry pair of gloves would have been awesome (and not a big deal to bring along). Same goes for first aid, safety gear, dry gear etc. Better to bring it than to find yourself wishing you did.
|These hydration vests have pockets galore – lots of places to
stash the necessities!
2. Don’t: Skip Breaks
From what I can tell, trail running seems to have a momentum all it’s own. Once you get going, the trail just kind of pulls you along and it’s easy to lose track of time. Normally when I run I take regular, timed walk breaks but on trails you kind of let the terrain dictate when you take a break. In bad weather though it’s easy to just want to keep moving and I didn’t break nearly as often as I should have. Trail running can be pretty tiring, especially if you’re new at it like me. New rule: take breaks. Often.
|Just think, if I took more breaks I’d have more than just
this one single selfie of Solana, Candice and I!
3. Don’t: Forget to Fuel
Our North Shore trails are so beautiful it’s easy to get engrossed in your run and forget to do things like eating and drinking along the way. Now perhaps our horrific weather could be to blame for taking less breaks and therefore eating fewer snacks but let me say this, it never pays to ignore your nutrition on any run, especially a long trail run. Around the halfway point I had no energy and was ready to give up. I ate a few Oreos, took another salt pill, had some energy chews and perked right up. I should have been fuelling better (and perhaps even more than usual) throughout the whole run.
|I’m embarrassed to discover I consumed less than 700mL
of water on that run
4. Don’t: Be Afraid
If you had told me that at least 15km of our 25km trail run was going to be in actual rushing river beds, I’d probably have thought twice about going on this run in the first place. And if you had told me that I’d be crossing raging rivers and climbing waterfalls, I probably wouldn’t have gone at all. But think of how much I’d have missed. When it comes to doing things out of your comfort zone (like trails are for me) you have to put on those big girl panties and go for it. You’re stronger than you think you are and trail running is the perfect place to experience that first hand.
|I wasn’t kidding about crossing raging rivers. There was no bridge,
no log and nothing to hang onto! But I did it!
5. Don’t: Regret your Recovery
Our run ended up taking quite a bit longer than what was anticipated and by the time we finally came down the last descent I was tired, hungry and freezing cold. It had been quite the adventure and every minute of it was spent with awesome friends but all I could think about was warm, dry clothes and getting home. The local cafe didn’t have chocolate milk and in trying to figure out how we’d get back to the starting point to get my truck, I didn’t get the chance to stop into any other stores to find some.
After dropping friends off, it was another hour or so before I got home and by then I was so tired I fought to get my compression socks on with my still-frozen fingers, grabbed a snack and hit the couch. I neglected to do what I know my body needs to recover after a hard run and I’m paying for it today with very stiff legs and no energy. Trail running is tough and your body needs the same kind of recovery, if not more.
|Don’t let my smile fool you! I was exhausted and couldn’t
feel my hands!
|These soaking wet and muddy orthotics made for an interesting
run 4 days later. Thank goodness for wool socks!