Jul 21, 2012

I got lost today and I loved it

Fort Rock - Exeter, NH
Today I learned the meaning of a true trail run.  I ran on a trail called Fort Rock by the locals. I ran 7.2 miles on a 5.5 mile loop. Yes, I got turned around and even started a second loop without realizing it until I approached a trail junction and realized my mistake. There are blazes on the trees, but it's hard to look up at them when your running over uneven ground and trying to avoid massive injury.

Pace per mile means nothing on a trail run. The rocky terrain, the exposed roots, and the combination of running, jumping, balancing and orienteering all make the pace per mile standard seem inadequate and too structured. The only way to measure your performance is to listen to your breathing and your heart rate. If you run the same trail more than once than you measure your performance in terms of overall time, but that is assuming the trail doesn't change too much.

The trail I ran today is part of the Oakland Forest property and it provides runners, hikers and riders a challenging and technical course. I saw three walkers and 5 bikers today. All were within .25 miles of the parking area. Once I really got into my run I saw nobody at all. I crossed paths with a couple of snakes and many unseen creatures, but it was very nice to enjoy some solitude on the path. At one point, the trail comes close to some private homes and eventually crosses a the street of a suburban development. I didn't her or see anyone, so I can't really complain about that.

Today I truly enjoyed my run in a way that I haven't for a while. I think road running crushes your spirit by small degrees and makes your legs dull and unresponsive. The trail challenged me to be nimble, balanced, and alert to my surroundings in ways that the road does not. Do yourself a favor and run free in the woods. It's good for you in so many ways.

Stay on your feet.

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