As the rainy winter season lingers, I find myself both loving the cooler running weather and wondering if we’ll have another heat wave and drought from May to September this year. Yesterday after work I ran on a campus trail that was super muddy; the light was beautiful, so close to dusk. The run was kind of slow because I don’t trust myself going fast over roots, rocks, uneven trails, and puddles. On the other hand, the attention you have to give to the floor of the forest is fun–and it helps to build agility as you sort of hop around some rather than just running.
I was reading some about running on trails a few days ago. We have done some forest runs, but I remember last year after a big windstorm we tried to run the Minnekhada Trail, not aware of a 500-feet elevation. In the steepest parts, we walked, which I read is a-okay among trail runners. On that particular day it was a little too dangerous to go too fast due to all the debris the storm left behind.
As I envision my goals for running, I am moving away from the idea of training for a half, maybe someday a marathon, and incorporating elevation and trails instead. It has to do with what I enjoy and feel like I am ready to do. I already seem to get every muscle/joint issue that there is (am currently contending with rotator cuff tendonitis) and have ongoing back issues. At least my legs and feet are pretty darn healthy–but it does take more of a core strength to train for longer runs. Not saying that trail running is particularly easy, but I think it is just more up my alley. It means being outside. Actually, no runner I know likes treadmills (I find them soul-less!), but I also don’t really like urban running. Drivers do not pay attention, and the environment is generally congested, loud, and ugly.
I feel much better when I get out to wilder areas–it’s just that this time of year there’s a lot of mud and water puddles. But it also breaks up the running. You may have to jump, or just stop and walk/hike, or go off trail a bit. There’s climbing involved, which can help build the core. And, well, I’m just looking forward to trail running and think I may do this from now on, at least as often as possible.
Running World has some tips for beginner trail runners, and the big one that stands out for me is to “watch your ego.” This is not a problem, because with running and most things in life, I don’t get competitive nor get bothered when I didn’t hit such and such a pace in such and such a distance. I never set out to be an elite runner or even close. It’s all a journey to me, a way to get outside and explore areas that aren’t clogged with people and traffic. It’s everything else that seems to be the most fun: discovery, getting away, finding some peace in nature, and so on.
Last September (I didn’t know it then) there was an MEC Big Wild Challenge to raise money for Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society for “campaigning for a national park in the South Okanagan to offer greater protection species that must move north to escape the impact of climate change.” I think that’s pretty cool and will watch for it this year.
I have only signed up to three races so far this year, the Vancouver St. Patrick’s Day race, where I’ll raise money for the Blue Dot Campaign, and I’ll be running the ScotiaBank 5K. I also just signed up for the Vancouver Sun Run’s 10K. I hope to see another Great Climate Race as well as watch for the Big Wild Challenge in the fall!