Trail running for me will be like guacamole for my son. Once he finally gives in and tries it, he’ll love it and never understand why it took him so long to give in. I’ve had a lot of friends who both road run and trail run and who have tried to coerce me into running trails. I had heard all about the strength and endurance benefits of trail running, but it really didn’t interest me. Trails meant rocks, and I didn’t have time for a sprained ankle or worse.
Road running had become about self-improvement and setting measurable goals, which seemed like a typical training plan, but the more races I ran the more improvement I expected. With pace goals, and PR’s, and Boston Qualifier hopes, it all became very task oriented and less about enjoyment. And just like that, running stopped being fun. It felt more like work.
Uninspired by road running, I decided to give the trails a try, but was still hesitant and sure I was going to break a leg. To my surprise, I fell for it from the very first trail run. I needed a runner’s intervention, something to save me from just running myself into injury and I found what I didn’t even know I was missing. I needed to slow down, stop watching my pace. It was amazing to look around during my runs, actually take it all in.
I ran the trails with different friends initially and then ran mostly solo for a few months. It felt like a runner’s reset. To run without music, without time or pace constraints, it felt like running freedom. It was definitely a new kind of challenge, physically and emotionally.
I am currently trail running regularly with a group of incredibly supportive trail sisters. The weekly trail runs with my trail sisters have become routine, I look forward to them each week. We run, we talk, we laugh and we take a lot of pictures.
I’m still a newbie trail runner and I have yet to run a trail race. Road running and racing became so intense that I really felt like I wanted trail running to remain fun and pressure free. But as I listen to my friend’s trail racing stories, my interest and curiosity has grown.
Recently one of my trail sisters invited me to do a half marathon trail race that is slated a week before the Cowtown Half Marathon, which I am already signed up for. A million excuses as to why I couldn’t and shouldn’t came into my head along with that excited feeling in my stomach, the butterfly fluttery one. And that was all I needed… I’m doing it! I’m likely going to have to move mountains to make this work but I’m going to do my best. In life you don’t get a second chance or a do over. Part of that fluttery feeling in my stomach is fear, but taking chances in how we find out what we are really made of.
They say if your goal doesn’t scare you, you probably need a bigger goal. I don’t think a half marathon road race and a half marathon trail race are an even trade, but it looks like I will be kicking up dirt instead of pounding the pavement.