Sunday, May 8, 2016

Switching from road to trail brain

Welp, its officially ultra-marathon training season! Last August I ran the Twisted Branch 100k and I am getting ready to do it again! After running the course last year, I learned what I need to do different with my training to do better on the course, and so my training begins and this time with my awesome buddy Waylon by my side.

So what is my training plan? Run Trails, then run more Trails, and finally run even more trails!

Last year I did my big long runs on the trails, most of them at North Park, some at Moraine and some on Laurel Highland. I did my second long runs on the roads, and most of my weekday runs on the roads too. Now I did decent in the race, but I know I can do a lot better. And that means more trail time! So this time around, I will do both long runs on the trails, and as many as my weekday ones on them as I can.

So this weekend I went out, and even though I have been doing some trail work within my road racing, I haven't switched over from road running brain to trail running brain.. and it showed. And this is what happened.....

There is a different way you have to run when you hit technical trails. Your gait is different and your focus has to be different too. I was not even 3 miles into my run when I ate it, HARD! *Sigh*

So here is how this works... When you are trail running you have to pick up your feet more and run with a shorter stride so that you can adjust easily, which is easy to do on the more technical sections because your brain processes "Oh hey,there are a lot of rocks and roots and shit, I need to pick up the feet"... but then you hit a nice little patch that is non-technical and your brain goes "Oh this is nice, I can take a little break"...NO NO NO it can not. Because infallibly it will be the tiniest f'n root on the trail that you catch on and WHUMP, down you will go. And down I went. Both knees bleeding, and the right knee instantly the size of a baseball, making running down hills and over trees a bit harder. But since I was doing 10 miles and sure as shit wasn't turning around, I finished out strong (ish). I did chuckle when I ran into a couple out hiking with their pup at mile 7 who told me to "be careful our there"... yeah.. where were you 4 miles ago? hahaha

Waylon did his longest run to date, his first ten miler. He finished with energy to spare and even took a nice dip in the lake along the way. 
Waylon taking a nice swim

At the turn around point
A very nice woman at a local corner store/grocery hooked me up with a ziplock full of ice and back home we went.

Sunday morning back to the trails. Both knees turning a pretty shade of purple, but taking on an easy, less-technical trail with our buddy Bruce that we often do Sunday trail runs with. And let me tell you I ALMOST ATE IT AGAIN! But before that happened, we had gotten through almost 6 miles, with one "oops I took the wrong trail" moment, and Waylon and I were happily running along. I got all complacent and was rounding a corner, not realizing there was a muddy spot around the turn. I hit that mud and as Bruce put it as he laughed his ass off, ended up at a 45* angle. Luckily I managed to get myself upright without going down, but it was my 2nd lesson of the weekend about getting my brain back into trail running mode.

The other thing that I had to remember to switch is nutrition and hydration. Road running I can go 15-18 miles 0-1 gel and can go without water for longer periods as well. I have to remember that trail running is slower and has more climbing involved, I have to take water and nutrition for both me and Waylon. Never leave home without it! 

Now Waylon is beat and a little bit stiff/sore so he will enjoy a few rest days while I keep getting my miles in. I am pacing the Cleveland marathon next weekend, so I have one last weekend with roads, but it will be my last until August 20th.  I am sure I will have many more WHUMP moments as I often get lost in my own head while running, but it is par for the course with trail running.  Just have to stay focused and pick up those feet! And in the meantime, I will enjoy the beauty that comes with trail running, swollen and bruised knees included. 

So whether you be on roads or trails, Happy Running! 

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