Once a Runner Always a Runner
There is something about running that has always had my heart. I remember always running, ever since I was a little girl.
“Runs Like the Wind” is what I remember hearing the adults call me as I ran through camp at Rendezvous. Teepee to teepee I was always yelled at for being too close to the ropes, scaring every grown up as I nearly took myself and someones home out.
Today I wanted to share with you my new favourite way to run, trail running. Running is in my blood, trail running fills my heart. Let’s talk about it.
Runs Like The Wind
I’m not kidding about being called ‘Runs like the Wind’ as a little girl. I was fast, and I was always running. In elementary school I started sports teams whenever we stayed at a school longer enough for me to join at team.
In grade 5 I started Track & Field and won 3rd place for 800m my first meet! I never stopped running once I learned how to start. My spirit runs wild, it craves the freedom running brings me.
Discovering Trail Running
So what exactly is trail running. Well, I’ll tell you in just a moment, because I didn’t really know until just a few weeks ago. But I had been exposed to it.
Earlier this year Gregory and I went on our first ever hike, up the Stawamus Chief to first peak. Not recommended to first time babywearing hikers. Along this hike we were passed by everyone and their mothers. Literally.
There was a group of people who stood out to me more than anyone else though. They were moving down the mountain, FAST! Gregory and I would pull over as a woman came down our left side, and half a minute later a very well built man quickly followed, hot on her tail.
They stopped at a large landing area further along the path waiting for the rest of their group to catch up and we happened to catch up first. I told them ‘You’re FAST!’ and they said ‘You’re strong!’ and we laughed and continued the path, awaiting for them to pass us when they take off running down the mountain.
This was my first experience with Trail Running. I had no idea it was called trail running. I just thought these people were incredibly fit and I was clearly not a hiking momma. Looking back I was amazed, genuinely complimented them and stated ‘I’ll do that one day” to Gregory.
While I haven’t done that trail running, I have finally started trail running… or realizing that I already have been for a quite some time.
What Is Trail Running
Trail running is just like normal street running, except you’re on a trail. I know, bear with me.
Street running you are running on pavement/cement, in a city, town or suburb. You often stop at crosswalks, for cars and feel your shin splints acting up because of how hard and often you’re feet are pounding the pavement.
Trail running is running on the trail. Any sort of dirt, gravel, grass (although you really should stick to the trail), sand and mud. As soon as you are not running on the pavement you’ve become a trail runner.
I KNOW! Who knew?
Chances are you’re sitting there thinking ‘have I been a trail runner all this time?’ and chances are you have been. I’m not even joking you.
In the Vancouver area, if you’re a fan of running around Burnaby Lake, Stanley Park, Central Park or Deer Lake then you’re a natural at trail running.
I have run those loops all year in preparation for a few races I was training for, unknowingly also starting my journey becoming a trail runner. #NewSkillUnlocked #LevelUp
Trail Running Porn
Okay, I’m going to show you a several short videos of trail running. This is sure to give you motivation to continue reading and learn more about trail running. I literally feel my heart start to pick up and my breathing catch as I watch YouTube trail running montages.
It’s runners porn, I’m telling ya. If you’re a #holosexual than you know here in our RAD house we embrace the orgasmic satisfying feeling of participating in certain activities. Move aside Peel porn, trail running porn is my new guilty pleasure.
Deciding to become a Trail Runner
Did you get emotional watching any of these? I’m always an emotional mess, but Trail Dog really got me misty eyed. If that doesn’t motivate you to hit the trail with your pup I don’t know what will. I would lurve to have a dog one day, and I would enjoy it even more if we could off leash trail run together.
Deciding to start trail running is as simple as putting on your running shoes and finding a path off the road. As I said, I started, unknowingly, by running Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake trails just outside Vancouver. They are flat, compact dirt terrain trails maintained by the city.
This is how trail runners start, it also where street runners turn to when they need to get away from the exhaust. That’s why I started running the trail. I was already seeking out nature on my runs instead of being satisfied with man made cement.
Your First Run
Starting out all you’ll need is a pair of running shoes and a water bottle. You shouldn’t start off your first trial run on a mountain. The first thing I read when doing research on trail running is that you need to start out slow and ditch and idea you have about running.
When you street run you’re timing your speed, distance and hoping to get the best time. Trail running isn’t about that at all. It’s about the journey, the struggle, the change, and then satisfaction at the end when you said you did it.
Starting with just your regular shoes (no special shoes needed for beginners, save your cash) just get out the door and start running. If you’re already a regular runner, then it should be no problem.
You may even find that the easy terrain of a city park isn’t enough for you after one or two workout sessions. It’s important that you start with city trails though. So you gain knowledge and build up your endurance. Trail running is not like street running.
More Advanced Runs
Once you’ve run some 5K city trail loops and find that the flat terrain isn’t as satisfying as it once was when you left the streets, you’ll start to seek out other trails. These are the type of trails you see in the videos above.
Oh, no way José. You don’t start off like those people in the videos. I wish. You’ve got to build up to that slowly, trail running is hard.
Once you hit trails with roots, rocks, elevation changes and lovely hills, you’ll find this is where you throw out all your knowledge you previously had on running. I mean, sure, it’s still running. But they say you’ve got to check your ego at the trailhead and become one with nature.
Run fast down hills taking steps much like you’d power down a flight of stairs. Keep your eyes on the ground in front of your feet so you can figure out where your next step will be and remember not to trip over that rock and root that seem to be a death trap waiting to happen. When going up hills chances are you’ll start walking and using four point contact.
The point is: Running isn’t just about getting out and going. There is a challenge ahead of you, a magnificent challenge that gets your adrenaline going and if you can keep your head in the game, your feet will take you to some amazing places the street can’t.
Not a Hiker
As I told you, I first saw trail runners on a hike. This is because trail runners share the trail. They are hikers, just at a slightly faster pace.
I love hiking. Yep, love. Not just lurve (my way of showing my passion about something without throwing the word ‘love’ around freely), LOVE. Getting outside in the fresh air, alone, with my son, with strangers at sunrise… there is something so satisfying with pushing yourself outside in nature and being rewarded at the peak of your trek with a view and then making it back to the bottom.
I have been mocked online in a facebook hiking group for moms, and by Mr. Radhuber, lately. People have told me to “enjoy the journey” and that ” it isn’t about the view or destination.”
At the same time this was happening to me I also read an article that was talking about making sure you’re not just hiking for the ‘gram. And it hurt my feelings, deterring me from hiking for several weeks as the hiking season quickly came to a close this year.
I believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiking and taking recognition for your hard work and enjoying the view. Yeah, I’ll even take several selfies, maybe try out a yoga pose at the peak for a wicked photo…
But doing this does not make me any less of a hiker than these other people out there. It means I am merely fully appreciating my hard work and the reward Mother Earth gave to me to view at the top.
It’s About the Journey
Let’s get real here. If I didn’t want to enjoy the journey and only hiked for the view at the top, why the heck would I give my blood, sweat and tears on a hike? (yes, most hikes bring all 3 of those out in me)
The fact that I am outside on the trail means I am a hiker. More experienced hikers can say that I’m not authentic and ‘enjoying the journey’ but I’m saying that my journey looks different than yours. Even if we are going to the same destination.
That’s right, these people who are claiming that moving, and sometimes moving fast, up a mountain side does not make me a hiker. But they are. And they hike to the same peaks, and use the same amount of energy, taking the same trails as me.
These people can va chier! Excuse my French. Anyone outside on the trail is considered a hiker. My son is two and he’s a better hiker than these freaks who were trying to belittle me for enjoying nature. Because he doesn’t judge people for how they choose to experience the journey.
Hiking On Steroids
I wonder if I read that somewhere or if I’m just a genius and coined that term on a whim. Either way, trail running is hiking on steroids. It’s a good analogy in my opinion. Trail running is perfect for those who enjoy hiking but sometimes find the pace just too slow.
I’ve read that some people prefer to complete a trail in 5 hours instead of 9. I am one of these people. This makes sense to me. When I am in the mood, I can go long ways at a decent pace for a long time.
And when I hike with a partner who can’t keep pace, I stop enjoying my hike because I am not experiencing enough dopamine in my system and I crave it.
Does that make sense? I need to get more of nature all around me and basically inside of me. I need the feeling I used to get when I hike, but more intense.
This is what trail running is.
The terrain is just as difficult as you’d take it at a hikers pace, you’re just moving quicker. In fact, there will be some points along the trail where you’re going to slow right down to a walk. And you’re still called a trail runner.
Trail running isn’t about speed or how fast you finish the trail. It’s about running, enjoying, stopping to smell the roses and getting to see views that you’d not otherwise get to in the city.
Trail running will lead you to places you never thought you’d get to see. It’ll test you physically and mentally. It’ll also throw some crazy things at you. It’s nature.
Run the trail without headphones so you can be more aware of wild animals along your path. As well I’ve read it’s useful for avoiding a head on collision with a mountain bikers handlebars. An equal reason to run without your ears muddled in my opinion.
Dress for the weather. You’re running outside, in nature, sometimes changing elevation. Weather will be a factor that you’re going to have to start to get used to. As someone who suffers from SAD, this has been a tremendous help during the rainy season in Vancouver.
Snow, rain, sun, wind… you’ve got to be prepared to hike in nature. Prepare with bug spray, a hat, and non cotton clothing in layers. It’s nature, you’re outside. You really have no idea what you’re going to come across. And that is half the fun in my opinion.
This post has now hit over 2000 words. I want to cut it off before I continue to ramble for too long. I could go on for days on why I love trail running, but if I haven’t convinced you of how easy it is to start, and how much you can enjoy running, then I don’t know if I ever will.
That being said, I will return and give you some more information on trail running really soon. More usable information versus my opinion. Think health benefits, trail running tips and fun stuff like that.
Before You Go
I hope you are really considering trail running. If you aren’t a runner, then I would love to hear in the comments if you’re inspired to lace up and get outside. Chances are you’re already a trail runner if you’re a street runner. You just don’t realize it yet, like I didn’t.
Lace up your shoes, hit the trails and live a life most people are going to try and make you feel bad for living. They’re jealous, and you deserve to get the rush of a hiker and runner all at once if that’s what you’re into.
That’s what I’m into at our RAD house lately. Try it out.