Trail Tackling: You Heard It Here First.

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View from the Ridge Trail, Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, MA on July 30, 2016.

I am super new to this trail running thing. I keep expecting to bound down these local trails, light as a feather. After all, this is suburban Boston; not the White Mountains. But within 20 minutes I’m panting and doubled-over. I keep making this mistake! You wouldn’t think there’s much to it, right? Especially for someone who has done 4 marathons and too many half marathons to count? Who spent her 20s planning and going on multi-day backpacking trips all over the eastern seaboard? You would be wrong. Trail running is deceptive.

It should be called trail-tackling. Trail “running” is a total misnomer, when you consider how much more than mere running is involved. You’re climbing, you’re hiking, you’re hopping, you’re balancing, you’re skipping, slipping, jumping, striding, and trotting. It’s your speed and ply-o workouts rolled into one. And then there’s the mental agility you need in order to keep your footing and orientation. When you’re in the middle of it, a 600 acre swath of dense woods in Saugus, MA doesn’t feel too different than the New Hampshire State Forest — all 200,000 plus acres of it. Try reasoning with the knot forming in the pit of your stomach when you lose your bearings out on a trail, no matter how close to home. There’s the niggling threat of falling and hitting your head, or breaking your ankle. How long would it take someone to get to you, even here? How would you describe where you are? What if there’s no cell reception? What if you lost consciousness? How many hours of daylight are left, anyway?

Keeping your wits about you is all part of the fun. The dirty secret of distance running is the monotony that sets in. For me, monotony inevitably leads to a performance rut or worse. I’ve taken lengthy hiatuses from running altogether. The longer I run, the more convinced I am that my level of enjoyment is directly proportional to my performance level. I don’t mean that I have to be performing well to be happy. I just mean that if I am not happy, I don’t perform well. And I sometimes quit.

So trail tackling. My new jam. More pics from my run last Saturday:

And a link to this Reservation and map if you’re interested:

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2 thoughts on “Trail Tackling: You Heard It Here First.

  1. very interesting to read your trail experience – are you preparing for a trail race? i’m about to run my first ever trail ultra in a couple weeks, without actually ever ran on a trail before so going to be interesting! i am familiar with the course though…well, i’ve walked it twice and it is a timed event around a lake for 6 hours so that takes some of the unknowns out of the equation, maybe!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I am doing a 7 mi trail race at the end of the month. In my experience trail races take a bit of strategy because it’s difficult to pass people and/or be passed so for shorter distances it really makes a difference where you are in the pack. Probably not an issue in an ultra tho. You are super smart to walk the course a few times! Even if you haven’t run trails before, just knowing your surroundings and being able to visualize what’s ahead will really help on race day. It’s so awesome you’re doing an ultra! I look forward to reading about it on your blog, and rooting you on from afar! Good luck!!

      Liked by 1 person

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