I'm here to tell you a fun little story about why I completely fell in love with trail running, and how I can help you do the same thing too. As many of you know, I've been a marathon coach for over 12 years now, and I've completed many marathons myself. 13 to be exact. I've also completed just as many half marathons, 10ks, 5ks, etc. Each race has offered me a unique opportunity for personal growth. I've endured pain, joy, peace, and a million other emotions along the way. But there is one factor that training for and running all "road races" has in common for me...
As humans, we are always striving to be better. With respect to running, that means: go faster, go farther, whether or not you're running on the road or on a trail. Essentially, we want to be better versions of what we are today, tomorrow. So, in the running world, those two things (faster & farther) are our compass from which to judge. As I quickly learned, once entering the trail running arena, was that the amount of judgement involved was so much less than that of road running. I think this is one of the reasons I fell in love with trail running. I judge myself way too much and way too often on my own, so anything that helps me to judge myself less, is a good thing.
In my most recent running goal/challenge of running the Lake Tahoe Triple Marathon last year (3 marathons in 3 days around Lake Tahoe), my training was not about running faster. I solely focused on running farther and more often. The simple fact of disregarding my pace took off a huge burden that I had placed upon my own shoulders. I simply learned to enjoy running, slow and steady, without the pressure of going faster or beating my time. My goal was not to run the Triple Marathon with PR times, but simply just to finish. Of course on the last day, I did want to go as fast as I could to get it all over with!
While I was training for the Tahoe Triple, I made a few trips up to the Lake in order to do a few training runs at elevation. I did my elevation training on some trails (Tahoe does not lack good trail running at all!) What I noticed was that I could run forever! Suddenly running 15-20 miles wasn't a huge "chore." It became an adventure, and something I actually looked forward to. Rarely does one wake up and "look forward" to a 20 mile training run on the roads (at least I never did). This was the confirmation that I needed to put more of my time and effort this year into entering the world of trail running, and take one step out of the road running world.
Those who have trained with me in my 5 Weeks to 5k, or Marathon Training Programs know how much I LOVE running hills. So, trail running would seem like the perfect fit. My goal is always to run up hills, no matter how slow I go. Think: "short, quick, tall, fall," for those who've taken my running clinic. Since this was my first trail race, I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I should be able to keep my regular road pace, because I was still in the mindset of "going faster and farther." How could going slower help me become a better runner? or rather, to enjoy running in a completely different fashion? Well, I completely powered through that 10 mile race (with little enjoyment), because I had to finish in my "time goal." It was a race, not just a run. Goal: Get from point A to point B as fast as possible. I couldn't even tell you what the trail or scenery really looked like. It was nice to cross that finish line, but, I think I had missed the point. As I mentioned, I powered through it. I did not enjoy it. I had "road running mentality" because that was all I knew at the time. My eyes hadn't been opened to the "trail running mentality" yet.
So, to wrap up my story, not sure I even have a point to this blog post, but my eyes have been opened to an entirely new world of running. It's not that I will forever eliminate road running from my life, in fact, I can't wait to run my next full marathon, but this world of trail running really has helped me to find more adventure, and less judgement/pressure in my life. I've coached marathon runners for 12+ years now for dozens of road races. But this year will be different. This year my hope and goal is to share my love of trail running with you guys. This year, my marathon training program will be for a trail race, in hopes of showing the "typical road runner" what it's like to focus on the adventure of running, and not the speed. What happens to runners when the pressure and judgement gets taken away? Do we start enjoying it again?
Come join me in our 2016 trail running half marathon training program! We begin on March 19th in Vacaville, CA for the Lynch Canyon Trail Half Marathon on June 4th! Click here for all the training details. I challenge you to try something new. Let's go explore and have an adventure together!