Nothing earth shattering or crazy happened over the past month.
I bought TomTom’s Multisport GPS watch. I mixed up my workout routine, a bit. And I embarrassed myself with yoga once or twice and want to do more of it.
Beyond that, I lived a little dangerous and broke a rule of marathon recovery. I only gave myself about a week of no running for recovery after the Flying Pig Marathon.
“We don’t need no stinking 26 days recovery,” I decided after feeling squirrelly by week two. I picked the habit back up, running about 20 miles a week, and have felt fine.
Granted, my runs averaged out to about 5 miles each, but many of them were at a faster than race-pace clip. And at least one of my weekly runs is now done on trails.
Trails make a huge difference, trust me.
A year ago, I purchased a pair of Brooks Men’s Cascadia 8 trail shoes. I bought the hand-held water bottle. I went out about three times with a friend’s trail run group. I promptly quit after I realized how hard trail running is.
Yes, it’s true what they say, trail running is a bit easier on the bones and joints. I mean after all, you aren’t jack-hammering your legs into pavement with each step.
What “they” don’t tell you is that the terrain for trail runs can be much more brutal. I nearly fell on my face a million times, stumbling over roots and jutting rocks. I tweaked my ankle because dirt isn’t the same even surface as roads. You have to really pay attention to where you are putting your foot when you run.
And the inclines. Oh, the inclines. Ugh.
On top of that, it’s muggy hot and buggy underneath that leafy canopy.
Even after training for three marathons last summer, I was wheezy and slow, stopping often to lower my heart rate, falling well behind the pack. Without much debate, after one particularly embarrassing run, my mud caked Cascadias sat in my truck for months. They mocked me every time I threw my gym bag with my street runners behind my seat.
If there is one thing I cannot stand, it’s that feeling of defeat.
So, one day a few weeks ago, instead of going on a road run after work I found myself driving to the woods that humbled me the year before. I slipped on the trail shoes with the year-old mud on them and dreaded what I was getting myself into.
That day I got lost on the trails about three times. I fell on my face once. I stopped more than I ever would on the road to catch my breath. That new TomTom watch measured 5 miles at a miserably slow pace. Not having anyone else to judge myself against though, I felt pretty good. I was covered in mud and blood from the scrapes from falling and the puddles I trooped my way through. And though I could still hear the traffic of busy roads every once in a while on the trails, being surrounded by woods was calming.
I’ve gone back multiple times since. Sure, it doesn’t constitute a streak, but I’m learning to enjoy getting caught in a thunderstorm, the thrill of avoiding face plants, and forcing myself to trudge up stretches of trail with strange names such as “stone steps” and “gummy bear hill.” I am going faster and further, and growing more agile with each run.
Combined with the Monday night spin class, my legs just feel stronger.
Yeah, team me.
I want to believe the trails will help improve my time during my fall marathon. After meeting my goal this spring I have the bug to push my time down further.
I am a man obsessed. I also have other fitness plans to propel me forward this summer.