Mar 30, 2011

Why run on trails?

Roads are naturally the choice for beginning runners. It is a simple way to track miles, and provides a more economical way to train. I still do a lot of my runs on the road simply because of how limited I am with time.

For many years I refused to run on the roads because of how uncomfortable it was. It started out that I did this because I did not want people to see me running. So I would drive 5 minutes to a local trail to run on. Eventually it became about getting alone time, and being able to be in an area that I could forget about my daily rat race of a life. I use to be able to go out to the same trail that was just a couple of minutes away to do my runs. Now with all of the development that has taken place that spot is no longer available like it used to be. So the time came that I had to either run in the road (I do not want to even bother mentioning the DREAD-mill) or to not train as often as I should.

Luckily when I found a road to run on it had a nice shoulder for runners to use, and that the traffic was not too heavy. Unfortunately there have been times when I have been yelled at by teenagers, almost hit by careless drivers, and have breathed in more exhaust fumes than I care to have in my lungs. So I decided to look a little harder for some local trails in the area.

To my surprise there was a considerable amount of trails just minutes away from my house. I now try to make it a goal to get out on the trails for my weekend runs. When getting back into trails I forgot about how different it is than road running. Hills, rocks, narrow spaces, water, and wildlife. The biggest adjustment was adapting the right pace because of how different the terrain was than roads. Many people do not realize how much more challenging trails are than roads, so they try to keep their road running pace up only to find that they get burned out.

Not too long ago I went up to a popular trail and planned to do a 20 mile run. I made sure I had enough food and water so that this would not turn into disaster. I did not know this trail incredibly well but had the general idea. I ended up doing 21 miles, and realized at the end that I should have prepared better. During the run I encountered many hills, and I was pleased with how well my body handled them, although I did have to make the proper adjustments (slowing down). It was refreshing to see other runners on the trails, and I was amazed at how friendly they were. Trail running is a great thing to add to your exercise regimen, and can help your runs become more exciting. It is a much better way to build muscles that you do not get by running on roads. You also get the benefit of being able to hear your own thoughts, and get the chance to truly clear your head from stressful lifestyles. To me this is what exercise is all about.

I must say that during each of my trail runs I notice that fellow trail runners are much friendlier, and that it is nice to not have the constant noise of cars passing by. If you haven’t tried this yet, I encourage you to do so. Just try to ease into it so that you do not get injured, do not go at the trails too fast like you would with the road. Make it enjoyable and relaxing. Good luck!!!!!

Mar 27, 2011

Buffalo Run 50k

Yesterday I found myself running my first 50k trail run. I was determined to make this a good experience and was not disappointed. Along the trails I noticed how much more friendly people were than when racing on the roads. The biggest thing I noticed was the positive energy that came from my fellow runners (even the ones running the 50 and 100 miles) that I came in contact with.
This race was out on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. If you have ever had a chance to go out there you know how scenic it is. There are buffalo, antelope, coyotes, and foxes all over the place out there. One scary part of the race was when I was just leaving the half way point aid station and an antelope came charging across the field, almost hitting me. That initially scared me at first but than the thought came to mind that maybe it was running from a cougar, but luckily I did not see one.
The last half was definitely difficult, and seemed to be the start of a different race.
Around mile 18 I started to cramp up really bad in my quads and hamstrings. I was able to push through these by taking electrolyte tablets and lightly stretching along the trail. I found that I was not as obsessed with my time as I was more worried about being able to finish strongly. This seemed to be the mentality of most of the runners during this race. If you ever get a chance to attempt a trail race, or an ultra marathon I would encourage you to give it a shot. I found the environment to be much more positive than the typical road race. Almost anyone can train for a road race, but trail running is much different and takes a lot of patience. This race was just a gateway for me as I will be seeking out more trail runs in the future.

This was just after the starting line as the crowd (around 200 people) headed up the trail.

Here I am coming in towards the finish. I was exhausted! But could hardly wait to see my cheering family!

I was very tired in this picture, I just wanted to sit down. I was fortunate to have some dry clothes to put on over my running clothes at the end. Even though the sun was shining (as you can tell by myself squinting) I got really cold at the end. My daughter just wanted to sit with me (I think the fact that I gave her a cookie had something to do with that).

Mar 17, 2011

Some thoughts

What motivates you to get out? This is a complex question that goes along with my relationship with running. I have days that I love to just get out and move around. Other days I do it because I know that my body needs it. No matter how big a deal I try to make running and other exercises, I still have other priorities in my life. They all seem to tie in together in my life.

When I am running and come up to a difficult point that I want to just stop, even though I feel physically able, what is it that will keep me going?

The other day I was out on a slow jog and mentally did not feel like going any further. I had reached a mental block. While my thoughts stirred about what I was going to do on this run, I had a reoccurring thought come to my mind. This thought is always on my mind, but it was radiating in a little more detail than usual at this moment. I was alone in an area where no cars were around me and the noise was minimal. Like most people who are striving to do all they can, and get stressed out by not feeling like things are going the way they planned, I felt overwhelmed.

 This was the foundation for my current mental block. My thoughts then turned to my family. I have a beautiful wife who has always been supportive of my running habit, and is always there to cheer me on. I also have 2 wonderful daughters that have me wrapped around their little fingers. While I sat there and felt sorry for myself, I realized that I needed to just forget about my worries and to get moving. It took me a minute to put things behind me, but I eventually got my mind to only think about the positive things in my life. My run went much smoother after that, and I actually enjoyed it!

Some may ask what benefits my family receives from my exercises. I could recite to you all of the clique things such as I have more energy, better health, that I am setting a good example to my kids by staying active, etc… But for me, on top of everything else, it is about reaching my goals. I strongly believe that we are to become masters of our own bodies. Whether that be eating healthier, avoiding harmful chemicals, or getting our bodies to do what it is told. I have found that exercise is only a fraction of achieving this goal, but is still big enough to retract my efforts if I don’t do it.

Here is a picture of my 2 daughters a short while back. How can they not motivate someone to take better care of their lives!!