I’ve been running a few 3.5 to 4 mile runs pretty consistently for a while now. A couple weeks ago I even got in a five mile run. I know, I know, in the running world that’s basically nothing. People run all kinds of crazy distances in crazy conditions. While I do run in the cold, snow, and occasionally the ice, I am not what anyone would consider an extreme runner.
I am a moderate regular runner at best.
This year I am planning to step it up and run a half marathon but not until the fall. I don’t like running in the heat.
Nothing about running 13.1 miles in above seventy-five degree temperatures appeals to me…nothing!
So far this week I had completed a couple just above three mile runs that felt really good. There was no walking involved and I felt like I could’ve gone longer when I was finished even on the hilly run. I decided today was a good day for a longer run at my favorite state park and I was toying with the idea of a trail run.
Usually I run on a paved path with mile markers but there are a couple trails winding through the woods that I’ve run before. One of them is a six mile loop. It’s my favorite but I don’t do it very often because it’s six miles and because when the weather gets nice the trails are overrun with people on bikes. This particular state park hosts a couple bigger triathlons a year and it’s a popular place to train for them.
Running five or six miles on a trail is not the same as running the same distance on a sidewalk or path. The trail is a six inch wide swatch of dirt that twists and turns through woods and fields. You’re constantly running up and down and all around, hopping over tree roots and rocks, ducking under or around branches, not to mention jumping (sometimes literally jumping) out of the way when a bike flies up behind you; it’s not just running, it’s an adventure. That’s part of why I like running on trails so much.
When I was debating running the six mile trail my brain said “Yes” while my body said “Ehhh, maybe.” My brain won out, though I don’t think it considered all the factors very carefully.
The winning arguments had to do with there being fewer bikers since it was the middle of a week day and not many bugs out yet since it’s still been chilly at night. Both valid arguments. I only saw a handful of cyclists the whole six miles and barely any bugs (this will change soon I’m sure).
The arguments against his idea had to do with the weather (high of 80 today), having to carry stuff with me (water bottle, ipod, phone, car keys, so much crap *sigh*), and not having run more than 4 miles almost this whole year.
But there is no time like the present to start pushing yourself a little more so I loaded up my pockets, grabbed my water bottle, and set out on the trail.
My goal for this run was to do it in an hour ten or less and NOT to fall.
Pretty soon I’m going to have to start wearing tights or leggings with my short skirts to hide my scarred up knees. It’s a little ridiculous for a grown woman to have scabby knees as often as I do. It just is.
I’m going to tell you straightaway that I did not achieve either of my goals today.
Just under a mile into the run I was having breathing troubles. Sometimes this happens to me, I don’t know why.
Maybe I’ve developed adult onset exercise induced asthma (if that’s even a real thing). At any rate this was not going to be one of those feel good runs of earlier in the week. I trudged on walking a little but trying to run most of it.
Around the two mile mark it dawned on me: I was running like a T-Rex.
My upper arms were clinched tight to my sides making my fore arms like the poor T-Rex’s short upper appendages, not contributing at all to the effort of running. That was left all to my legs as I thudded through the forest. All I was lacking was the tail for balance. That thought made me chuckle a little since clearly I’m just lacking balance in general. Maybe a tail would be helpful.
This didn’t seem like the most efficient way to run so I made a conscious effort to loosen my arms up and move them with my running stride. It helped open my breathing up a little but I was still not having the fun, refreshing run I had been hoping for.
Between mile two and three the first biker of the day whizzed by; I jumped out of the way just in time. I thought I had my music volume low enough to hear them but apparently not so I decided to enjoy the sounds of nature for a bit instead. I should’ve known better than to run while distracted on a trail especially when I was already tired. As was trying to pull my iPod from the pocket in my shorts to turn it off I tripped over a tree root & bit it. Doh!
Of course I jumped back up. My wrist was sore and my knee scraped just a little but that was about it.
The worst part of falling right then was the loss of momentum.
I did manage to keep running…and walking…and running…and walking. Around the four & a half mile mark I had to admit to myself that I was just tired.
And then I remembered how crappy I felt the night before: headache, sore throat, painful swollen glands, aching all over. Clearly I had been fighting something barely over twelve hours earlier.
Somehow this had escaped my memory during the brain/body debate of whether running six miles was a good idea today.
I had definitely bit off more than I could chew here today. My six mile “run” was turning out to be a six mile alternate between barely-jogging and plain out walking.
After jogging the last half mile back to the parking lot (running the last little bit, no matter how bad the rest was, helps you maintain a shred of dignity)
I was finally done.
I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would or even felt better after doing it but I can say I will try that six mile trail run again…hopefully sooner than later.