Trail Running -- As Scary as It Sounds

I'm all for trying new things. I am. Since I've been running, I've wondered what it would be like to stop pounding the pavement and to give trail running a try. It just seemed so dirty and dangerous and .... mysterious. But since trail running comes with certain risks--- broken bones, sprained ankles, strained ligaments--- and I'm always in training for SOMETHING, I was never brave enough to give it a try. Until today.

After making plans earlier in the week to meet three friends today at 10:30, I found myself hoping it would rain. All this clean eating has left me feeling sluggish and irritable. (I think it's just a stage and will get better. I miss white flour and sugar!!!) Alas, the sun came out despite the 40% chance of rain. Sigh. I was stuck.

The first section was a gravel road. I thought, "Hey, this isn't so bad." But that wasn't actually the trail. We turned off onto the trail and suddenly it was all dirt and rocks and roots. I trudged up a hill that went on forever. Or maybe 3/4 of a mile. On the return trip down, I got a little cocky, over-confident, and speedy. See, downhills are my thing. I was chatting with my friend and suddenly lost my footing on a rock or something and rolled my left ankle. Unfortunately my left ankle is (was?) my good ankle. It's the stable ankle while the right ankle is all willy-nilly. Righty will just go weak and fall over for no apparent reason after I rolled it for the first time last March. I ran both marathons this past year wearing an ankle brace on my right ankle. Now, I suppose I'll need a matched set.

Really, it wasn't that bad. I rolled it 1.25 miles into the run, but was able to continue and finish 4 miles. It hurt for a minute, and it's vaguely ached ever since then, but it will be fine. I hope.

So, I figured the downhills were what you had to watch out for. About 20 minutes later, my friend was going uphill and her shoe got stuck under a tree root and she went DOWN. Like, all the way, dirt-on-the-forehead down. It was her first trail run, too.

I will admit, I liked the CHALLENGE of trail running. I think I would like it more on a nice wood-chip covered path.... or maybe a grassy path. Trail running is sort of dangerous! But I think I'll do it again. Maybe some trail shoes would help..... (any excuse to shop!).

Also, check out the blog 52 Beginnings. This woman is attempting to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money to help AIDS orphans in Africa. She's only been running about 3 years, which is amazing. She writes about how her 4 or 5 hours of suffering is nothing compared to what these children endure. It's very inspiring. She's coming my way for the Country Music Marathon in April. She finished last weekend's trail marathon in Maryland in just over 4 hours. Wow.


lawmonkey13 said…
I've taken a few spills myself running on the trail, but I wish that I could run them more often! Even though I run slower and I hate when my feet get wet from random puddles and steams, I have so much fun running trails. I feel really close to nature, sometimes so close that I'm practically face down in the dirt with nature. ;) I got some trail shoes also. I like the Asics Enduro's but Saucony makes some nice ones too.
Trail shoes really are worth it. I had a pair of new balance that were good for me when I used to do more trail runs.
Kate said…
that is so neat! i was just thinking this the other day!!! i looked on asics site at their trail shoes. another investment indeed! i thought about mixing it up if i'm not training - may be fun. :)
I just did my first trail ultra on Saturday. You must have trail shoes - they really help! I loved the challenge of a technical trail! It was hard this morning to run on the road (I ended up on the soft shoulder). I think my races will be in the woods from now on!

Glad you gave the trails a try! I hope the ankle is okay.
Tricia said…
Sounds kind of nasty! I'm thinking of doing my 1st trail run in Sept. I guess I should try it a few times before I sign up :)
NY Wolve said…
I've never been on a hard core trail run. Every summer, we go for a hike, and I ask myself: what would this be like to run this? And I always think: no way, I'd bust an ankle in about 10 minutes. Sadly, I have become a city slicker.
Lisa said…
Give it another try. I think you'll start liking it more. Your ankles definitely get stronger. I was totally freaked out the first time I ran a trail where I had previously only hiked. Now, I prefer the trails. It doesn't pound on my body quite so much. I still occasionally roll my ankle, but my ankles seem to take it much better and I never have any lasting injury or pain.

Once you get your footing, just enjoy the scenery.

I hope your ankle is ok and that your friend is fine.
Sounds like a fun change, but twisting ankles would not be fun. Hope your ankle is okay now.
Emily said…
The big fear on the trails where I live is the RATTLESNAKES. Just don't know if I can muster up enough guff to brave it.