Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trail Running Article in Northwest Runner

As promised a couple of weeks ago, here's the article I wrote for Northwest Runner Magazine (click on pages to enlarge):


  1. Can't read it. It's probably the resolution of the scan that you'd posted (which is probably a smart idea so-as to spur sales of the magazine!)

  2. OK, I read it now. Thanks!


    Good article! Completely agreed. I find trail runners to be very approachable. What's interesting is the personality change that affects all of us when we get into unfamiliar surroundings. Perhaps it's the fact that while running on trails our pace is nowhere close to that which we typically attain on road surfaces, the novelty of running through beautiful forests rife with pastoral beauty, or simply because it's rare for us to get out on the trail we seem to relax more-so on trail runs than on any high-stress urban race. I've also found that by landing on the soft running surface that I return even from a 50K trail run feeling fresh - as though I'd only run 10K on a typical road surface. Thus, the idea of running a 50K trail race as a training race three weeks in advance of your goal marathon is a good one. To run a marathon you'll EASILY have the endurance to run the much slower paced 50K, and you'll discover it to be a blast too!

    As regards safety I like your recommendation to bring an experienced friend with you. As to leaving your GPS at home, while I agree in the sense that studying your pace is an unnecessary distraction on a trail run (and its revealed slow pace may actually serve to discourage you) the Garmin Forerunner has a wonderful "Go to Start" feature which serves to point you towards where you'd begun your run. This has bailed me out from my all-too-typical trail-induced disorientation more than once. A cell phone can be a great emergency communications device, but unless you've got a GPS functionality built-into your phone so that you can relay same the cell phone will be practically useless:

    COLIN: "Honey, come get me, I'm lost in the woods again."

    WIFE: "OK, where are you. I'll drive there right now."

    COLIN: "Ummmm, I see several tall trees and a squirrel. Oh wait, there's a bear!"

    WIFE: "Colin?.... Colin?"

    Also, the inexperienced trail runner should explore the trail in bite size pieces so as to build-up their knowledge of the trail system, the amount of time to return from any point, and to gradually build-up their trail running skills. This is because trail running, navigating treacherously tripping tree roots, *slowing down* on downhill segments are quite different than the skill set needed to run in an urban environment.

    The hardest thing that I find is to maintain my concentration and focus for a prolonged period. It almost always happens that when I zone-out mentally I fall-down physically. So, stay sharp, and when you begin feeling that you can't maintain your concentration slow down!