Although I've only been training for my first ultra-marathon for about a month, I've learned a lot about trail running so far. Here's the top 10:
1. I need to eat more on trail runs. While I can run 14 miles on the road fueled by only 2 GUs, the same rule doesn't apply on the trails. I haven't figured out the exact best formula for my body's needs, but what I've been doing so far isn't enough.
1a. When I am grouchy, not smiling, and saying things like "running sucks" this means I needed to eat about a half an hour ago, and didn't eat. My lovely teammates Jenn and Donna got to experience this on Saturday. I hope they'll still run with me!
2. What I used to refer to as "hills" are really just inclines. These are actual hills:
Yes, I ran up these hills. Also, photo credit belongs to my teammate and coach Brian L.
3. Mud may slow me down, but as long as you don't fall in it, it's not so bad.
4. Running downhill is really, really, really fun. It's worth the super steep uphills.
5. I am sure that I will deny #4 many, many times.
6. There is (almost) no way to quit in the middle of a trail run. Each run starts at a trailhead, and that's where the car is parked. No one can drive down that trail and pick you up if you decide you don't want to finish the run. Also, there's no cell reception to call anyone to pick you up.
7. The woods are not full of wild animals or serial killers. I grew up in surburban New Jersey, and watch way too much Criminal Minds. I've usually been frightened when in the woods by myself, but the more trail running I do, the more I can let go of that fear.
8. My ultra teammates are really incredible. I'm inspired by the variety of endurance events many of my teammates have completed, and especially by the huge commitment they've made to team in training. Plus, they're lots of fun to train with.
9. Trail running can take you to beautiful places that are inaccessible except by foot or bike.
Again, photo credit to Brian L.
10. There are no porta-potties in the woods. Not that I was really expecting any, but it's a different experience. Also, learning how to identify poison ivy and poison oak has been a very useful skill!