Happy Monday! For some of us, it’s back to the grind. I spent the weekend in New Hampshire with my family, including my brother and cousin whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. I always find it tough getting back to the bustling world of work and the city, so am slowly adapting this morning. Hope you all enjoyed your summer weekends wherever you were!
My time up north included a lot of outdoor activities and micro-adventures on either side of a tremendous storm that hit the mountains on Saturday night. Losing electricity and water for a few hours following the storm was fun, but I was happy for these amenities later in the evening once the power returned.
Other than that excitement, we were able to squeeze in a run on Saturday and a hike on Sunday on my favorite little mountain, Cardigan.
And watch some amazing sunsets over Newfound Lake:
Saturday’s 5 miler was the first run since last weekend’s trail race. I usually take a full week off from running following a race, so this was routine. But this was the first time I have run a marathon in the middle of a training cycle so I treated the race as I would any other. I plan to ease back into training again this week and will most likely cut my next long run down by a few miles before piling the miles back on in early August. I think having a cool-down period (both mental and physical) and avoiding overuse is one healthy recipe for preventing injury and burnout.
Feelings of mid-training cycle burnout are not at the front of my mind right now though. The trail marathon last weekend was an adventure that reinvigorated my enthusiasm towards marathon training. It’s been over a week since the trail race and I am still feeling excited about the experience- and I can’t wait to sign up for my next one!
Here are some things I learned during my first trail race:
- The scenery is more beautiful in a trail race compared to a road race. In the North Face Endurance Challenge, we were in the middle of the Blue Mountains overlooking Lake Huron. Some sections of the trail were through acres of open fields- and I felt as free as a bird running through them. There were also many shady sections, which were a relief for a summer race. I have run several scenic marathons, but they haven’t compared to the Ontario trail race.
- People are more social during a trail race. It’s easier to chat with fellow runners during a slower-paced trail run when there’s only a few of you together in the woods compared to normal marathons teeming with focused runners. But also, it seems as though trail runners are a close community, eager to learn about each other’s’ backgrounds and thoughts on the trail. I am always surprised by the amazing camaraderie between runners of all events- but this seems exceptionally true for trail runners. I certainly got a few “tell me about yourself” and “so where are you from” questions throughout my race last weekend.
- The race tends to be broken up by the time of day/hour on the clock as opposed to mileage. During the race, I was more concerned by the elapsed time on the Garmin and didn’t pay as much attention to the mile marks (which are far and few between in a trail race!).
- Pace does not matter in a trail race but can be very important in a road race (if you are concerned with a goal time or PR). Given the grade variety on the trails, it’s difficult to maintain a consistent pace- and it’s difficult to compare paces and race outcomes on every race given the variety. I walked most of the uphills in last weekend’s race whereas I attempt to keep a consistent uphill pace during road races.
- Trail race aid stations are buffets with every kind of candy, salty snacks, junk food, and many types of drinks. Since aid stations are more spread out than road races (last weekend’s race placed stations every 4-5 miles), it is important to carry water in a handheld or camelback.
- Sunscreen, bug spray, and glide are essential on the trail, as you’ll be out there for longer than a similar-distance road race. Minor issues can be exacerbated over time, so you want to prevent them as much as possible.
- Every mile can be vastly different in a trail race, which results in an exciting adventure! Be prepared to get muddy, make sure you maintain quick feet, and enjoy the journey!
Regardless of whether you favor trail or road running (and there are pros and cons to both), consider this: “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt”.
One more sunset of Newfound Lake:
What was the highlight of your weekend?
Do you prefer trail or road running?
How do you maintain motivation in the middle of your race training cycle? Are there specific things you do to “spice up” your runs?
Have a happy Monday! Xo