Transitioning to Trail Running – Weekly Recap – 6.7.20

This was another emotionally exhausting week. First, hearing about Dave Glassman’s lack of support for the black community and black lives matter movement, and then hearing more and more information around the disgusting culture at CrossFit, Inc head quarters. It was just heart breaking to be honest. I shared my difficult decision in Kissing CrossFit Goodbye, and I feel like there’s more that needs to be said. But honestly, I’m not ready to say it all. There’s a lot that needs to be processed, and for now I’m going to focus on my continued transition to trail running.

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Because right now, my time on the trails is one of the few spaces in my life where I feel true peace.  I am so thankful to have both running and lifting as outlets in my life.  I made the hard decision to leave my CrossFit box after I spoke with the owner.  She gave me the information that they will not be dis-affiliating at this point, and I honestly just cannot support the industry any longer.  My current plan (which could change) is to join a month to month gym membership  and follow some sort of online programming that is similar in structure to CrossFit.  I’m still exploring the different programming options that are available to me.

The weather for most of this week has been amazing.  It’s been nice and cool in the mornings, and hot and dry in the afternoons.  Which means it’s been perfect for morning runs and afternoon swims.  On Wednesday, I split up my run so that I could get some time on trails.  I ran 8 miles at the wilderness park near me in the morning, and then took my son for a short 3 mile run at the Leon Creek greenway during my lunch.  He rode his bike while I ran.  We haven’t had as many runs together recently because I’ve been shifting more miles to trails (where he can’t ride his bike), and there have been days where the heat is just too much in the afternoons.

We signed him up for a mixed sports camp next week, and I’m so excited to hear all about his experiences. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little nervous with the coronarvirus still spreading, but I also don’t think it’s truly feasible to keep him isolated all summer long. Hopefully this one week will be a good mind-break for him, because I know he’s been feeling stressed and frustrated.

We started hearing all of the disheartening information around CrossFit, Inc on Wednesday.  I made the decision that night based on the information that I could find to no longer work out at an affiliated box.  It wasn’t easy, but as more information has come out, I definitely believe that I made the right choice.  I was hopeful that my box might be able to find a way to dis-affiliate, but after a conversation with the owner, I realized it was not the avenue they planned to pursue at this point.

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That evening, in response to the information and protests, one of the coaches at my box decided to start fundraising by taking donations in exchange for banana bread.  You can check out her blog and programming content at https://thecandidkilosblog.com/blog/.  She posted about how she decided where to funnel donations, and I happily picked up my loaf of banana bread on Friday.  I have to say that as upset as I am about CrossFit, Inc it has been great to see so many athletes stand firm in their convictions.  And I am always in support of more carbs in my life.

Saturday was my husband and I’s 5 year anniversary. So after my long run, and a long nap, we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant near us. We had all the chips and queso and beer, and it was very relaxed and fun. Just the way we like to celebrate.

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And while we’re talking about long runs, it’s been a few months that I’ve switched to running my long run distances on trails.  It took me several weeks to build up to a point where I felt like my body could handle that amount of mileage on the trails.  In those months, here’s a few things I’ve learned that have helped me to transition to the trails.

Related Post: Running Hacks Every Runner Should Know

Tips For Transitioning to Trail Running

As a runner who has run almost exclusively on the roads, it has been a very interesting experience to start transitioning to trail running.  I honestly was not expecting trail running to be quite as different as it has been.  I’ve run on trails a handful of times, but in full transparency the majority of my trail running experience involved heavily trafficked trails that are not technical in any way.  The 50 miler that I have my eye on looks like it might be fairly technical, and I have access to more difficult trails now than I did previously.  So I decided to give it a shot and try to get in shape for some hard trais while I’m not training for a road marathon.

As I’ve incorporated more trail miles over the weeks, there’s a couple of tips I would recommend for road runners who are interested in pursuing some trail races or just trail running in general.  Here’s my unsolicited advice:

Slowly Add in Trail Miles – When I first started incorporating trails, I really loved how different it was. It felt like more of an adventure than road running, and I had a moment where I wanted to ditch the roads all together. But my body was not prepared. Despite having run for over a decade, these trails were kicking my butt. I started out by splitting up my runs and getting a couple of miles on the trails a couple times a week. In practice, this could mean taking an 8 mile run and running about 3 miles on the trails and 5 on the roads. This can help you get more familiar with the trail systems, and allow you body to acclimate over time. Can you go straight into trail running and survive? Probably, but your body may have a much harder time, and you may not enjoy the experience as much. Over a couple of months, I’ve definitely increased my mileage and time spent on the trails, and I’d recommend a slow adjustment.
Get Used to Tripping – This was not something I was fully prepared for. One the roads, there is nothing to trip over, other than the odd imaginary speed bump. On the trails, this is not the case. There are pointy rocks, roots that look like snakes, frogs, and all sorts of other unseen things just ready to catch your big toe. Especially if you are running on technical trails. It gets worse when your legs are tired and you’re not lifting them up as consistently. Be prepared to trip. Be prepared to fall. Leave your ego on the roads, and just try not to break your face.
Take More Water & Fuel – I had an idea that I would need more water than usual. The slower pace and high humidity on the trails made that pretty clear. But I never thought about the fact that the added time on feet and the strength needed to climb would translate to burning more calories and thus needing more fuel. Thankfully, Nikki & Stef from the Run Hard, Mom Hard podcast gave me the advice to take more food than I thought I’d need. And honestly, this has saved my exhausted behind on more than one occasion. Grab an extra gel or two on your way out (and check out their amazing podcast).

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Don’t Stop Speedwork – When you run on trails there’s a lot of things that require you to slow down. The afore mentioned tripping hazards, switch backs, and steep climbs and descents all mean going slower. Plus, there’s a good chance you’re going to come across sections that demand power hiking instead of running. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want your legs to remember how to turn over. There’s a lot of strength to be gained from speedwork that will help you move more efficiently on the trails. Plus we all hope for at least one or two of runable sections where we can put those faster gears to good use.
Roll Out Your Feet & Calves – Feet can get pretty beat up on the roads from smacking the pavement so consistently. I initially thought that the “softer” surface of trails would be a nice reprieve, but I was incorrect (it happens once a year or so). A lot of the trails can involve rocks and stone, which is pretty hard, but also means that your feet have move in a lot of directions they are not used to. All that movement is really tough on the little ligaments and soft tissue that connect all the bones in your feet. And your calves might get trashed constantly jumping on rocks and climbing up inclines. You definitely want to roll those lower appendages a little more than you used to.
Don’t Neglect Strength Workouts – Most people don’t realize how much strength workouts can help running on the roads, and even more so on trails. Constantly pushing your body up demands leg and glute strength, running down requires core, and not smacking your face into a tree when you trip might require some upper body muscles. Make it a priority to either get in the gym and lift some weights, or set aside some time to do compound body weight movements. If you need some inspiration, you can check out my Workouts Page.
Let Go of Pacing – Once again, the ego is your enemy on the trails. The first time I ran a 5k on technical trails, I felt like I was flying on a lot of downhill sections and believed I was moving pretty efficiently everywhere else. My normal easy pace is about a 8:40 on the roads, so when I looked at my Garmin to see a blazing 11 min average pace, I could not help but laugh. There is absolutely no comparison in pacing between trails and roads, and sometimes even trails and trails. You might a 10 min average pace on easy, runable trails, and a 14 min average on climbing technical trails. Focus more on effort and efficiency rather than pacing, and you won’t find yourself frustration.
Enjoy the Change of Scenery – Trails can be really hard. Mentally and physically. It’s a lot to ask your body to move for 3-4 hours to finish a long run when you’re used to 2-3. The rocks, falls, and spiders might make things on the trails more difficult. But oh man, the views that you can find are absolutely amazing. I’ve run in some beautiful area’s (bayfronts, scenic neighborhoods, historical parts of town), but there is nothing that compares to seeing the sun rise over the Texas hill country. Or running through giant redwoods or pines. There’s just some views you can’t get from the roads, so enjoy taking in all of the scenery. Snakes and spiders included ๐Ÿ˜‰

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This Weeks Workouts

Total Miles: 61.5
Total Workouts: 4
50 Mile Training Plan, Week 3
How the Runs Felt
This weeks running went pretty well.  I started off the week with some easy trail miles, which I never hate.  My cousin met me on Monday at the wilderness trails on Monday, and I had a good time showing her just how varied those trails really are.  I already mentioned that I broke up my run on Wednesday to get in more trail miles and have a short run with my kiddo.  I probably could have spaced out my workouts a little better, but oh well.

I had my first 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 workout. My running program right now is a bit of a mix. I’m running higher mileage similar to the Hansons Marathon Training Program, but I’m incorporating workouts from the book Running Your First Ultra. The 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 workout prescribes that you run hard for 1 min, recover for 1 min, run hard for 2 min, recovery for 2 min, up to 5 minutes. I’m liking the time based speedwork, rather than distance based. This is the first time I’ve had workouts that are based on time, and it feels a little less daunting mentally than 800m repeats.

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My second workout of the week was 6 x 5 min hard with 1 min recoveries.  The last couple of intervals were hard.  I kept my paces at about a 7:20, but those minute recoveries go by in the blink of an eye.  I decided to do my workout on the Leon Creek Greenway, because itโ€™s quite a bit flatter than the area around my home.  I felt really good during both workouts, and felt good for the rest of the day.  These workouts are tough, but they aren’t as taxing as the workouts I was doing on the Hansons plan.  Which I don’t hate at all.

My long run Saturday was pretty tough for me.  I honestly was so frustrated with what I was hearing about CrossFit headquarters that by Friday, I didn’t do a good job fueling.  I felt pretty depleted after my first 7 mile loop.  I packed an extra gel, and I was so thankful to have it on hand.  After I rook a short fueling break, I felt much better.  I got in just over 1,800 feet of vert on the run, and I spent the rest of the day fueling, stretching, and rehydrating.

Related Post: Complete Guide to Running Fuel

What I’ve Been Listening To
I have been catching new episodes of The Missionary, Light In Darkness, and Forgotten: The Women of Juarez as they come out.  All three podcasts have me very interested and entertained.  I binged an investigative journalism podcast throughout the week that looked into the story of a boy who ran away and disappeared from a “therapeutic” school.  It seems like there are strong links between these therapeutic schools and a cult that thrived on the foundation of tough love.  It is crazy to hear how these two worlds intersected, and how parents have been taken advantage of under the guise of treatment for “troubled teens.”

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How the WODs felt
Honestly, I’ve been feeling stronger and more confident with heavier weights this week. Once again, Friday was the weeks toughest workout. 300 double unders is not for the faint of heart. I have a lot of uneasiness about choosing another programming method. As much as I hate the culture present in CrossFit HQ, I love the CrossFit methodology and programming. I know it is not the only effective programming available, but after taking a 3 month break from CrossFit, it has been really great to be back in the box and have true programming again. But it’s not enough to keep me contributing to a company that is at odds with everything I truly believe and value.

What Went Well
I have been incorporating a lot more vegetables in my day to day intake, and I feel like it’s having a positive impact.  I’ve loved getting hard workouts done again, and my running workouts have been fun.

What Went Shitty
I am in a really not great place mentally, which I think is pretty clear at this point.  I feel like I am mourning a huge loss, and in all honesty I am.  I know I’ll move through it, but if 2020 could stop, that’d be great.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week, I’m hoping I will have a solid idea around what kind of programming I want to try out.  I know it will be so strange working out in a different environment, but I hope it will give me a mental break.

One thought on “Transitioning to Trail Running – Weekly Recap – 6.7.20

  1. Rolling the ankle and calves is such a great reminder. Sometimes the tightness sneaks up on me if I neglect them. Trail running would require even more thoughtfulness with this!

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