Wow, trail running is one heck of a way to train the body and mind. As I start to get back on the trails I cannot help but reflect back to my adventure racing days. The first thing that comes to mind is 'if I only knew then what I know now'. And, all in all we were pretty successful, winning a race, placing second in a year series and having some respectable times against some good competition and in some harsh conditions.
When we were competing I have to say that I did not know how to maximize my potential. My training was suspect to say the least and it certainly is not how I would train today. As I prepare for my new running re-transformation I am becoming a student all over again and I am excited about.
On my run today which took me through the hills of Rancho San Antonio on the Wildcat Loop and up a portion of the PG&E trail I began to have flashbacks. I could not help but remember just how effective trail runs are and just how darn hard they can be, especially on those long climbs, that mix in short steep sections, much like Rancho and especially the PG&E trail.
Yes, I did indeed hike up a few of the many, many hills and this strategy helped me conserve my energy so I could run the 'less steep' hills and power through the flats. Taking the hike the hills approach, run the flats and downs is what many of the 'experts' who run ultra trail runs do and this has been a proven and effective strategy. I believe that for me, this strategy will help me when I get to the longer distances.
See, I really do not enjoy running the roads/streets but truly do love trail running, always have. Being out in nature, pushing my limits, the quiet ambiance and the clean air really add to the experience, which is exactly what trail running is for me. Therefore as I continue to build a base, gain strength, help my body adjust and find balance in my training I will start to transition to more trail and less road.
However, this leads to one of my key reflections about my prior experience. I will be well served running flats, maintaining a good strong pace, and being able to do so over longer distances. Plus, hills/trails do place more stress and the recovery flat runs will really help me acclimate once I focus more on trail stuff.
Great run today, covering around 4 miles and 40 minutes which is a great pace and one I could have sustained for a longer duration....but slow and steady right now as I adapt.