Trail Running Training week 16, 110 days left to Death Race

12 04 2010

After last Sundays 62.5 km run in the parks and along the Lake Shore in Toronto, i feel confident in my training to start getting creative.  Instead of specific distance targets i will be focusing on specific types of running for set periods of time.  So today i would normally do a 32 km route around the city in the Parks and along the river, instead i drove an hour and a half out of the city to run some hills i heard of.  A  32 km run would usually be around 3 hours so today i thought i ll just run for 3 hours in the woods and not worry too much about the mileage.

I drive about 120 km to Cobourg cursing myself for not leaving earlier, and turn North on the old number 45.  About 3 miles past route 22 on the Baltimore road, theres a “paint ball” place.  Up behind it are some logging roads criss crossed with snowmobile trails and quad pathes.

Ive got a full waist pack on, 5 kgs, it has two 375 ml bottles, one of water and one of my amino acid/carb bomb.  Ive got pretzels, snickers bar, trail mix, walnuts, and rice gels.  Ive got an exposure blanket, matches, and a handheld bottle of Gateraid.  I had a bowl of Cream of Wheat for breakfast and a big pasta last night for dinner.  Its 12 C up here and sunny blue sky. 

I set off at a slow jog and do my usual systems check.  The ankle seems healed already but im cautious of putting any shearing laterally on it.  I m going to have to focus today.  These arent board walks in the park.  these are heavily rutted, muddy, or sandy logging roads.  Or even winding trails through the woods and twisting around trees, baring their roots as the quickly climbs 300 meters, and decended even quicker.  I ll need to really concentrate on my foot falls.

I suprise the hell out of some moto crossers who dont here me coming or expect some big guy with shorts and a pack to be charging through the woods 7 km back from the road.  I wander back and forth on trails though the cuttings and at times am a bit confussed as to which way is back but eventually after 21 km and both bottles of gateraid and 2 gels gone im back at the car.

I ll have to say that i liked it very much.  It was so quiet back there, you could hear only your breath and your feet.  The ground was so perfect that even the feet were fairly quiet as they sped along the trails.  I can see im a faster trail runner than a road runner.  It all comes back to me as i run these trails in the woods.  When i was  a kid we literally lived in the woods in a small community in SouthEastern Nova Scotia.  We d run for hours through the woods on little more than animal pathes, and in places no pathes at all.  Theres a disctinct method to run in woodland trails and when you find it you can run like hell.  Somehow at a point, for me its around 14 km, you get into a zone and you can see the next 5-10 steps in front of you and plan exactly where your foot will fall for the next subsequent steps.  Your brain is processing this very quickle and keeps you in the step you are taking and right through to the next ones.  Its really something as you use the various banking and ruts of the path work for you.  To learn to hit the rock in a certain way so you almost spring of it.

I hit speeds of 4 minutes per km and can rip up a 300 meter hill at 6 minute pace.  I release now that although ive always enjoyed running, i absolutely love trail running.

People often say what do you think about when you are running?  When you trail run all you think about is running.  The next step, hydration, nutrition, are you getting blisters, are your feet wet from sweat or did you get them wet?  Are you sweating too much and will chill later.  Are you going to fast to maintain this for an extended period or will you be so burnt you cant even walk up the hills in the end?  But mostly its about the feet.  next step, root, ok rock, step left, rut in road for next 3 steps, over the log, and so on…….for thousands of steps.  You can almost do that and have other thoughts at the same time after a while.  its a bit like watching a movie and taking a peak at the hockey game during commercials.

Then theres the absolute solitude.  The woods are quiet!  Even the parks in the city without people are alive with multitudes of birds and small animals.  The big woods are quiet…..the occasional rustle of some creature, the suprised partridge or squirrel.  A far away wood pecker…….so quiet. 

One of the huge plus’s of training on trails like this is that they are more specific to the up coming Death Race in Grand Cache Alberta, and they strengthen all of the small muscles in the feet and ankles.  At the same time running on the forest floor is so much less impactfull on the knees than asphalt and concrete.

I also believe you can aquire a better foot strike by trail running.  The reason i say this is i have been wathcing alot of video of Dean Karnazes and Ray Zahab, among other great trail runners.  You see they run on the ball of thier feet and have a mid foot to toe strike not a  traditional heel to toe.  They run like this as in trail running you are always running up a hill or the soils softer and therefore you are on the forward part of your foot more often and condition yourself to forward foot strike.  I believe its why you dont often see these great Ultra Marathon runners with injuries.  They have excellant foot strike.

well it was a great day and experiance.  looking forward to having some fun with my program, not just slug out the miles!

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2 responses

15 04 2010
Joan

A great note on trail running, son! Glad that you are finding the joy of running in the wilderness.

17 04 2010
extremechef

Thankyou Joan. I absolutely love it. I finally found a physical activity i really love and am decent at!

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