Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy Trails? My Love/Hate Relationship With Taking It Off Road

Beautiful Autumn colors on a wonderful trail run at Lake Jacomo,
One of the Jackson County Parks in Lee's Summit, Missouri
Now that the Fall racing season is winding down, it's time to start focusing on more trail running ... I suppose.  I wasn't always a fan of trail running, and it's still definitely not my favorite.  But over the years it's really grown on me and I actually look forward to it from time to time.  Plus, this time of year, the changing leaves make it feel like you're running through a kaleidoscope.

For me, the best thing about trail running is the physical benefits of changing up my training once in a while.  The rougher than normal terrain, and navigation of endless obstacles demand my full attention and keep me on my toes.  Plus, all of the lateral movement, along with the continual altered strides really strengthen my ankles and joints.  And my feet definitely enjoy the break from pounding the pavement once in a while.  As primarily a road runner, I know that there are many added benefits to hitting the trails that really improve my overall performance.

That being said, there are few things about hitting the great outdoors that I'm really NOT down with.  First ... I've never once tangled with a snake, fox, billy goat, mountain lion, wolverine, tiger, yak, black panther, pit bull, or shark ... but other than maybe the fox so I could ask him "Whachu say?" ... I DO NOT WANT TO!!!  Yes, I have super powers - but they're not effective on wild rabid beasts!  I like to eat animals, not fight them. (no offense to my vegan friends)

Number two ... MY DANG SHOULDER STILL HURTS!!!  Like pretty much every other runner in my Ultra Marathon back in March, I fell a couple of times toward the end.  On the second fall, I tried to catch myself with my left arm.  After all this running and weight loss, I basically have the shoulder strength of a junior high girl now days, and jammed it pretty hard.  I think I might
Wow ... yet another picture of Jim running ... shocker!!!
Just further proof for the grandkids that I once was in shape
 have torn something, because for a while I literally couldn't reach across my body.  But this was more than seven months ago and still hurts.  Not as bad, but it still affects my upper body workouts.  Probably shoulda went to the doctor.  Anywho ... it was a result of trail running.  So strike two.

Finally ... it's sooooooo boring ... and creepy!!!  Don't get me wrong, constantly whipping my head around at the sound of every snapping branch to make sure Jason Voorhees isn't sneaking up on me with a chain saw or cross bow is super cool and all, but I just need to see actual humans at some point.  Last year when I was training for my Ultra, I spent hours, and hours, and days in the woods by myself.  After a while I started going all "Into The Wild", running around naked, eating poison berries that eventually killed me, and humming crappy Eddie Vedder music under my breath.  It was horrible!  Nobody needs Eddie Vedder music.  Nobody.

Now before you question my manhood, just know all that aside, I'll probably add two or three trails per week, mainly as recovery runs.  It's not the trail's fault.  I just need to know them better, know them better, know them better now.  Taylor Swift.  And hopefully in the Spring, after once again conquering the horrors of running in endless solitude during the cold dark & lonely winter along the wooded and rocky ridge for months and months around the frozen lake, maybe I'll be better for it.  And who knows, if I do actually spar with a bear or cheetah, imagine how ridiculous they're gonna feel when I keep one of their teeth or hooves as a symbol of my victory.  It could happen.
... be great today!

16 comments:

  1. We can't be friends anymore. Haha. Seriously. I LOVE the trails and they are so not boring but agree running them hours alone is boring but so is road training hours alone. Get a buddy, or take your wife, and go run.

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  2. Do watch out for bears this this of year; you might look like a tasty snack right before hibernation time.

    You know the trails are good- for everything you said. Just try to forget about pace :)

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  3. I thought all Americans packed a little heat on the off-chance that you might be attacked by a wild animal. We're pretty lucky over here - there's only deadly spiders, snakes and the occasional kangaroo to worry about. And I'm not joking about the kangaroo. They can be vicious!

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    1. I don't know if you get American news channels over there, but yes, according to them we're all gun toting thugs ... I promise I'm not a thug. But I would love too see a kangaroo on a run!

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  4. I prefer the trails anytime before the road and that includes the animals. I prefer not seeing other people. I think it's just the way I grew up. I spent all my spare time outdoors in the bush with whatever animal company I could find. I suppose I'm a true born and bred African :) Enjoy the trails!

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  5. But I'm like literally half the man you are Johann - ha!

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  6. What the real takeaway here is, do you still have enough shoulder strength to flip pancakes??

    I hope you PR this weekend. I mean that.

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  7. Wait, it's not this weekend is it?

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  8. Don't be a sissy...falling is part of trail running. And really the wildlife, you simply scream like a little girl and carry on ;-D

    Also, you might want to find a running partner, preferably one slower than you...then all you have to do is outrun your partner should you come across a bear ;)

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  9. I have no problem with anything you said about the trails, but how can you slam Eddie Vedder and then quote Taylor Swift? I always looked up to you, Jim... but now I too am doubting your manhood.

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    1. Ha- thanks for picking up on the music thing ... I go to gray lengths to be witty and sarcastic, and sometimes I think it gets lost.

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  10. I worry about another sprained ankle when I am on trails. I vastly prefer roads both on my bike and feet.

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  11. I LOVE trails, and the more isolated and more wild, the better. There's nothing like being alone out in the mountains that's exhilarating and freeing. As for bears and moose, I'll take them over creepy guys lurking on paved trails any day.
    You'll be hooked on trail runs soon, trust me. It is So. Much. Fun.
    P.S. We don't have snakes up here in Alaska, which is one less critter to worry about, lol.

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  13. I would love to do more trails, but to far to go to get to one, plus mountain lions seen around here, so no plans for any trail runs for me. Hope your shoulder get better.

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  14. I'm a city girl. Give me blacktop and I'm happy. Not down w/the trail running either.

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