In high school I ran track and cross country during the academic year and it wasn’t even close which I preferred. As photographic evidence, I even dug out my high school jacket (class of 1994 – wooooo!)
Yup – I loved cross country running. In Corner Brook, Newfoundland it was actual, honest to goodness cross country too – rooted, stony, wet trails with lots of greenery and bugs as added attractions.
At my undergrad school (Mount Allison University), there was no cross country team, so I joined a local track club and continued road racing as well. By the time I finished my second year of undergrad, I was barely running at all. Occasionally over the next few years, I would attempt a run or two but always on the road and pretty much always ending with some reason as to why it had been a bad idea. I was a long way from my cross-country days.
Now that I am re-immersed in the running world with a couple thousand kilometres under my feet as well as two marathons (why, thank you) I am beginning to remember how much I loved trail running. It was complete serendipity that led me back to this aspect of running as during one of my first BibChats with BibRave on Twitter, I won a free entry to any of The North Face Endurance Challenge series of races – which are all trail races. I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to use this fabulous prize, but as it turned out there was a race in Ontario. Even better, it was timed such that my wife not only thought I could do it, but encouraged me to register.
Having some common sense (I swear!) I knew two things that had to happen before the trail race in July. The first thing is that I had to get some experience running on trails again as it is a much different experience and feel from road racing. The second thing is that I knew I had to get actual trail running shoes to help with the training and also, of course, race day.
By another stroke of luck, there is a really active (and even better – free!!) trail running group in Fredericton, which is where I am spending the majority of this summer. The Fredericton Trail Runners meet every Monday night at a different trail head with two separate pace/distance groups each going out for roughly an hour. It’s organized by The Radical Edge and both times I’ve gotten out with the groups have been excellent!
Even during my non-running years, I was a pretty avid hiker, so I really shouldn’t be surprised by how much I have enjoyed trail running. Even with a group, it is much more of a back to nature experience. The sights and smells as well as the technical aspects of your footing and so on really spark your senses and invigorate you more so than roads (and especially tracks).
With less than four weeks to go before my race, I can say with certainty that this will not be my last foray into the trail running world. The psychological and physical benefits of mixing up training and race terrains are more than worth a second pair of shoes. Finding new ways to keep running enjoyable is always exciting.
Do you have much trail running experience, either racing or just for fun? Comment below and let me know!