A couple of weeks ago, as part of my marathon training, I ran the Croom Zoom 25K. (That’s roughly 16+ miles.) This was a trail run and as my longest trail run to date, I highly enjoyed it! I’ve been dabbling in trails for a little while now and have completed a total of four trail races. Boy are they a different animal from road running! I’ve learned a lot of things in my short time as a newbie trail runner and I’d like to bestow these small nuggets of wisdom to you all.
- For the love that of all that is good and holy – buy trail shoes! I ran my first two trail races in my regular running shoes. I wasn’t ready to invest in trail shoes so I figured it was fine. While I didn’t bust my butt in them, when I switched to trail shoes for my third event I was SO happy (and lucky) I did. They made a major difference on the terrain and I felt way more stable. And I say this about an event that I DID bust my butt in. I think it would have much worse had I not worn them. Do I know what types are best? Not a clue. But I’ll get there at some point, I’m sure.
- Quick feet and watching your steps are a must. Ok, so this is probably a no- brainer but you have to watch your feet and watch them often. Trails can be so beautiful but they can also be quite hazardous if you aren’t paying attention. Being ready to hop from one foot to the other is key and I think it’s a skill that you get better at as you run.
- Don’t “scoot” on technical down hills. At the most technical of the courses I have run to date, which by many standards really isn’t THAT technical, I tried to “scoot” down a section and lowered my butt way down. This was a bad idea. I threw off my center of gravity and almost toppled down and broke my neck! The second time around on the same section I still took my time, but I stayed upright and this worked much better! (As a caveat here, I imagine there are some trails where you 100% have to scoot or but beware of that change in your center of gravity!)
- Trail runners are SUPER nice. Every trail runner I know or have met thus far has been super nice. And helpful. And not trying to run me down at aid stations. Ha! At aid stations during trail runs everyone has just sort of moved out of the way or stopped completely. Granted, it’s far less in number of runners than big road races, but it’s been really nice to stop to drink my water rather than carefully gulping it down while still trying to maintain race pace.
- There are still ridiculously fast trail runners. I still can’t get over how fast a lot of these trail runners run on what I consider precarious terrain. I’ve been passed by folks running double the distance at double the speed! So in awe of these folks! It takes tremendous mental fortitude and skill to be locked in for that long and going that fast. Nuts!
I am loving these trail races I’ve been throwing in and cannot wait to do more! But first, that little marathon I’ve been training for is in looming. More on my training in the next post.
Step up to trail ultras! Those really are the best part of trailrunning. The people are very different, the aide stations are different (I got a dixie cup of bacon in a 50k once), and you take a long, slow approach. It’s more about having fun and making new friends than about being fast. Trailrunners rock.
The Pine Mountain 40 was my first trail race, in south Georgia, really technical. Get into a volunteer pacer pool if you don’t want to actually go the distance. a 50k is only about an hour longer than a marathon, but waaaaaay more fun.
I definitely think an ultra will happen at some point. It’s just a matter of trying to fit everything in that I want to do! lol