Yesterday a small group of us headed out to Rockledge at Grapevine for our first trail run. Hari, Heather, Melissa, and I are training for a 50K in Palo Duro Canyon; the others came along to try something new. We ran 6 miles. It was great fun, and definitely a great workout. Here are some thoughts about the run:
1. There’s no way you can run the same speed on the trail as you can on the road. This particular trail is full of roots, stumps, and rocks and you have to pay close attention or you’ll stumble and fall. Even if you do pay close attention you may still trip. It happened to Bill who tripped on a rock and took a spectacular spill at mile 1.7, and me who tripped over a root and fell to my knees at mile 1.85.
2. The course has a lot of ups and downs. You can’t expect to run them all. Some are so steep you have to walk.
3. Don’t expect to talk much running this trail. It was one of the quietest group runs we’ve ever had. Having to focus so intently on watching where you stepped was, to me, like active meditation. My focus on being present on the trail was razor-sharp.
4. Running the trail meant having to use different muscles. I felt like I was using my quads more because of the hills, but also my Achilles and ankles got a good workout. You also need good balance and flexibility to navigate dodging roots, rocks, and stumps. Yoga’s great, but plyometric exercises are certainly in my future.
5. It was much cooler than a regular run at that time of day (after 7:00am) because it was almost completely shaded by the trees. I was surprised at how dense the forest was along the edge of the lake. At times, it was like running through a tunnel.
6. My Nike Free’s handled the trail okay, but I have to think trail running shoes would be better. I really felt some of the rocks through the thin soles.
7. The miles flew by. Maybe it was because of feeling so enclosed in the woods, or having to watch the trail so intensely and thereby not being aware of passing time, but the miles seemed shorter on the trail.
8. It was fun. Even though I was concentrating so hard on not falling, and paying attention to every footfall, I felt like a kid playing in the woods. It gave me a great sense of being alive.
9. It was exhausting. We only ran 6 miles but we were all bushed by the end. I felt like I had run at least 10 miles. It was definitely harder work that running on the road.
10. Despite the challenging course, and using different muscles, I have no soreness today. I guess it’s true that running on trails is easier on your legs.
Here’s a short video we took before and after the run: