Trail Running – a different kind of animal

img_4581In 2017, The Running Lushes ran several trail races of various distances, including the the Rattlesnake Ramble 5k and 10k, Honey Badger 10k and Half Marathon, and Krampus Cross Country 10k (all Sasquatch Racing events) in the Bay Area.  While we are accomplished half marathon road race finishers, trail racing is fairly new in the running repertoire, and therefore is filled with “developmental opportunities” aka BIG HILLS!

img_4560The Running Lushes know hills.  Training in San Francisco will inevitably include running on hills.  However, trail running is different in a number of ways:

  1. Trail hills are different than road hills: Road hills can be steep, but the pavement is generally reliably even, and the incline has to be such that autos can drive on them.  Trails can be extremely uneven, with rocks, roots and other irregularities that can be difficult to navigate.  This is harder on the ankles and knees.
  2. Trail races probably won’t have exclusive access so you may be ‘sharing’ the single lane trail with hikers, sunday strollers, other runners, and fast moving mountain bikers
  3. Trail races will be slower than your road pace. Accept it and move on.

The scenic beauty of trail running generally balances out the “developmental opportunities” inherent in off-road running.  And living in a climate like the Bay Area, generally means good weather and trail conditions.

Here are our learnings from this year’s trail races:

  1. Course markings: Don’t count on any written “turn-by-turn” directions.  Run with a race organization that clearly marks the course.  And when you’re running, make sure you look up and follow the course markings.
  2. Pace: Adjust your pace to exert a consistent level of effort throughout the run, especially on longer distance races.  When going uphill, slow down, and try to make up time on the downhill sections.  That said, the downhill sections can be treacherous, and you do not want to fall.  So if the terrain is uneven, take the downhill sections at a pace where you can run confidently in the face of trail obstacles.
  3. Trail etiquette: Trails are typically more narrow than paved paths and as mentioned above, often not exclusive use so are shared. There can be areas with no shoulder or a sheer cliff edge. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and fellow runners so use of music, speakers or headphones are not advised nor encouraged. When passing slower runners, be sure to call out which side you are passing on and make sure you are in a safe place to do so. If you find yourself holding up faster runners, pull over to the right at the first opportunity to let them pass safely.
  4. Hydration/Fuel: Due to the remoteness and terrain of trails, it is likely there will be fewer aid stations than a road race.  It is advised to carry your your own water, electrolytes and gels/chews. Also remember that there won’t be as many trashcans, so make sure you can carry out any packaging.  We recommend carrying a small snack size zip lock bag to carry back the sticky gel packs.
  5. Gear: Trail terrain can be rocky, uneven, muddy/wet, have exposed roots and loose rocks. Invest in some good trail shoes that have soles that give better grip. Wear pants or tights so if you do fall, your knees will have some protection. Use ankle or knee braces if you need extra support.  Leave the headphones at home and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Trail running is a great way to get out of your comfort zone, get into nature and take your form to the next level. It forces you to be light on your feet, develop a strong core, glutes, ankles and of course hills! Check out the upcoming Sasquatch racing Rattlesnake Ramble on 2/25 in China Camp State Park or tag us at the Brazen Racing New Year’s Eve run!

Trail Kicker Cocktail

3 oz tequila or mescal if you prefer a smoky flavor

3 oz grapefruit juice

1/2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 lime (juiced)

1 oz dry champagne (optional for floater)

Course salt for rim

Combine tequila, grapefruit juice, chili powder, honey and lime in shaker and shake vigorously until ingredients are blended. Pour over ice in salt rimmed low ball. Add champagne floater on top for fizz.

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