Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Trail Running "Ah-ha" Moment

Monday was my first run in two weeks. I was determined to get out and put some kilometers in. The weather was hot and sunny but it was late afternoon and I figured just doing 5 km would be a good start. I really was almost giddy with excitement when I put on my running shoes and left the house. I decided to take my normal route which starts out with about a km of trail running before hitting the paved pathways.

I felt great along the trails - I hit my pace early and had no issues. Then I started along the paved pathway and "BAM", I started to wilt. I was hot, uncomfortable, and really thirsty. Now I've run in the heat and sun before but it was usually up north and I would have been shaded by trees and bushes. I did horribly along the path - stopping every so often just to cool down and drink. Not the way I wanted to do this run at all.

On my way back to the house, I finally got back on the trail and within seconds I felt better. At first I couldn't figure it out and then it hit me...trail running is cooler (as in temperature) then path or road running. Even if you don't have trees around, there are usually longer grasses or bushes close to the ground that absorb the heat, not reflect it. Its just easier to run. Now I suppose if you are running in desert-like conditions ( my theory is compromised, but it just made sense to me. The vegetation on the ground created cooler conditions and that in turn cooled me down. I was able to run at my normal pace again!

Until that point I was still unsure if I was "trail-running" material. I seemed more comfortable on paved roads, sidewalk, and paths. But that has certainly changed now - I'd rather be running trails then overheating miserably on the alternative.

I did learn one other thing on Monday - I do have to learn how to run properly in heat. I was just getting used to running in layers and now I need to concentrate on heat....NOT that I'm complaining!!

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