Sunday, March 15, 2009

A fun new world very close to home

I'm still experiencing some soreness off my right hip and, based upon reaction to pressure, I'm wondering if it's due to an aggravated sciatic nerve. This soreness makes walking and running uncomfortable for the first ten or so steps but it goes away after that. I almost decided to rest it but instead headed over to Stillwell Woods, a local preserve that sits across the street from the High School track. I figured that running trails would have a lesser impact on my injury and if the soreness continued I could just return knowing that I tried.

Access to the trails is fronted by a large complex of athletic fields and as I ran past I saw many other early birds gathering to play football and soccer while others were unloading trail bikes. Those people scared me because I figured we'd be competing for trail space and they didn't look particularly courteous. As it happened I didn't encounter a single biker on my run but I did see a couple of other runners. I entered the trail and instantly found myself in another world. I'd run a little at the Planting Fields but that is a not really set up for trail runners and mountain bikers. There was nothing but high brush on the sides and a flat trail in front with other trails connecting right and left. The elevations varied every hundred feet or so and, in the narrow parts, it felt a little like riding a roller coaster. The trees prevented a line of site to give any true perspective on where I was relative to anywhere else so I just let the trail take me where it would. It was really fun.

The temperature was in the low 40's and I wore less layers so I had no issues with the heat. The trails were muddy but the cold kept me from sinking in. Any colder and it probably would have hurt to run on it, any warmer and some sections would have been just too mucky. Perfect. I learned that trails are harder to run than pavement or track and I know this because I could barely maintain a high 9:00 pace but my heart rate was showing that I was putting in a strong effort. When I finally came out at the other side of the athletic fields I was at 2.5 miles and I decided that, with respect to my injury, it was enough for today.

I'm looking forward to returning to Stillwell to explore the many trails not taken this morning. It's literally five minutes from my front door but it feels like it's a million miles away. I'm betting that this change from road running can only help with my training as I approach race day.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! A few more posts like this and I'm going to start calling you the Emerging Adventure Runner!

  2. I can see how trail running can become addictive. I'm wondering how the experience changes when the temperature goes up and you're running ankle deep in mud.


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