Technical Trails

9 10 2010

The problem for me in training for races and events is i love running too much!   I know in order to perform at my peak i need to follow a program and certain details BUT if it’s a nice day for running and i have an oppurtunity to run a trail whether its scheduled or not i cannot help myself.

Such was the case last Sunday in Nova Scotia.   I had been re-habing my knee since the Death Race in July and had put in some easy runs with a long of 32 without incident, but i was feeling the urge to let loose.   When my work ended by 3 pm last sunday and the kids had gone back to their moms i knew where i was going.

quickly dressing and packing a few necessities, such as headlamp and matches in case im stuck over night in the woods i was off and “running”

I had told my mom where i was going and what time i should be out and set off with 3 hours daylight left.

The run starts with an easy jaunt along the old “rails to Trails” for a nice 700 meter warmup, then it cuts off onto the path into the Bluff Trails.

For the first part i met a lot of day trippers and a few weekend warriors, in the easy first 1 km of the trails, after 2 to 3 km i met a couple seasoned hikers and birdwatchers…..you can tell who’s who by the way they are dressed.  The seasoned people had proper clothing and a day pack of some sort with water……………………….after 5 km i hadn’t seen anyone in a while when i rounded a turn and scared the life out of a couple.  i guess i sounded like a moose coming through the brush.

The trail is marked BUT not so well so i took a couple wrong turns onto deer paths and had to back track………………….i was running hard……probably much harder then i should have after 3 months of non technical running, when i went over my left ankle…just enough to say ouch and pause for a moment to assess.  it seemed ok so off i went again and at 9km i went over the right ankle a bit harder…ouch again…seemed ok so off i went.

The Bluff trails dont over much elevation ( maybe 1200 feet of change over 20 km) but they are extremely challenging.  Single track through thick woods, with rocks and roots EVERY step.  sometimes you break out onto large granite boulders which are smooth and flat for 500 meters where you can break it open for 2 minutes!  running here you understand the ruggedness of NS and that there is a bit of topsoil spread over MASSIVE granite slabs for miles!

i love running here.  it doesn’t offer the majestic beauty of the west coast Rockies, but the barren “tundras” landscape offers another form of beauty.  its peaceful and serene.  occasionally you reach the height of 400 feet and can see out over these peat bogs and black spruce clusters.

there’s a few little streams to cross, and lots of short up and down hills, a bit of pine forest and a lot of bog.

Im running hard when i come upon two ladies strolling along with a little yorkie………….they are heading deeper into the trails with about 1 hour 30 left of day light and a long way from the road.  i stop and tell them this.  Someone had moved a couple of blue markers and had them heading the wrong way and they had been walking several hours and thought themselves almost out. 

i pointed them in the right direction and set off at a hard pace, working my heart at about 80%,  After 3 km i reached the yellow loop almost back to the road.  Worrying about them i had been dragging my feet every 300 meters making an arrow in the dirt pointing the way out but i was still worried about them.  so although now i was definitely fatigued and had run 15 km ( which is like a 22 km road run at tempo) i turned back to see where they were.  I came upon them 1.5 km from the yellow loop and told them where they were.  they were making good progress and felt better about their situation.  i decided to leave them as i had marked the trail well and knew they would reach the yellow loop soon and from their an easy 30 minute walk back to the main trail.

i set off again and was definitely fatiguing.  the thing about technical trail running is you DONT daydream and lose concentration….i did……running at a hard pace with very fast foot turn over and short steps means as soon as one foot touches the ground you had already better know where the other is going!  My right foot lands on a steep sloped granite rock with a light wet moss covering……………..as the left foot is in the air the right foot slips so the left lands 6 inches off my planed landing spot…this is all in milliseconds.  the left foot lands between the roots and my momentum sends my entire body weight hurdling over it….SHIT……i hot the ground, smack my head on a rock and im rolling around in the dirt saying …”please don’t be broken, please don’t be broken”  writhing in pain for several minutes i get up and test my weight on it….ouch….not good…………i start to hike out with a limp the last 2 km……..thats how stuff can happen.  a bit harder of a smack on the rock with my head and im knocked out or dead….a bit more of a firm left foot plant and its a compound fracture…………………the perils of technical trail running!

This is why i will never be an elite runner!  Well this and the fact that im way to big, abused my body too many years, and lack the proper genetics!  lol

im thinking though that a real elite runner thinking about racing in two weeks would not have done a run like this as its too risky for injury………………but im not an elite runner and i LOVE to run in the woods like this so i would do it again knowing the risks

so i drop out of my pending Vulture Bait 50km scheduled in two weeks.

I get to the car 20 minutes before dark.  I had given my business card to the two ladies asking for a text when they reach their car.  I get a text 20 minutes after dark.  they thanked me profusely and said they were going directly to bed.  what started as a couple of km hike in the woods had turned into a 6 hour technical hike leaving them exhausted.  it could have been a bigger adventure if i hadn’t come along with a partial or whole night in the woods without light, warmth, food, water or proper clothing.

these adventures and experiences enrich our lives.

im sad about my foot, but the day was amazing.  22 km, took 2 hours 45 minutes ( instead of my usual 1 hour 45 minutes).  i burned 2100 calories!

i ice heavy but it’s too late.  i wake up the next day to a foot that’s swollen to the size of a grapefruit and turning various shades of black and purple………….unfortunately i need to work in the kitchen all day for the next two days so my feet wont get the needed elevation and rest they need. 

i wear a pair of compression socks which helps a lot.

it’s wed before i see a doctor.  prognosis, severely torn one of 3 main ligaments.  no fractures, minimum of 2 weeks off running, 10 days off swimming…………………..so what to do?

work on core and upper body.!!

Most runners i know ignore the upper body.  One i like to look good and want to maintain a decent upper body, seeing as it’s not likely i will be running in competitive circles anytime soon, and two these technical trails require strong, abs, obliques, lower back, torso and shoulders.

the stronger the core, then the quicker the reaction time when something goes wrong..apparantly im not quite quick enough!

The good news is i shaved over 30 minutes off my time from the last Bluff trail run i did.  I can’t stop thinking that NS could have its own version of Death Race with this amazing trail.

Cant wait to get back there and do it again.

to me extreme trail running is what it’s all about.

i run roads simply to get me to the trails!

Cant wait for my next running adventure………………….i will be working hard this winter on stregthening my ankles, and small conective muscles in feet and lower legs so i can run these trails harder…………………….last year i worked very hard to get ready for Death Race, but this year i will work even harder and hope to arrive there injury free so i have a shot of actually finishing…………………..what?…………….everyone knew i had to go back and try death race again!  i cant leave something like that unfinished!

My 30 week training schedule will start getting posted in november in sections.

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4 responses

16 10 2010
Cathy

I am looking forward to hearing about your training again for the death race…I too shall attempt to solo this year. I live just north of Newmarket. I followed you last year ~ but this year I too shall be doing the time 🙂 I went out to the death race training camp last summer with a friend, who will also be soloing…so we know the terrain..hard to find it here in ontario……

17 10 2010
extremechef

Hi Cathy, nice to know another crazy person! lol. I ll start Blogging again soon. Real Training starts november 1st. Now just trying to nurse along a couple injuries and keep a 50-60 km a week base. Lets chat occassionally. Its difficult to train for that monster here. There are a couple places we could get a group together for.

Keep Strong

3 11 2010
tagesgeldkonto

This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

6 11 2010
Joan Czapalay

I love reading and re-reading your blogs, Stefan. I see your love of nature so strongly here.

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