Monday, November 9, 2009

Trail Running

Or: Workouts To Help You Escape Prison

Taking some advice I decided to do some trail running this weekend.  Since I live right next to the power lines I figured it would be the perfect place to run, long stretches of dirt paths that the support vehicles use follow it for miles.  I kitted up and set forth on my first trail run in a very long time.  The first thing I should mention is that I do not own a pair of trail shoes so I had to deal with some loose traction and the occasional sharp stone but they really didn't slow me down as much as I thought they would.

The run quickly became a cat-and-mouse game of avoiding the multiple puddles and pools of water along the route and the inevitable mud that surrounded it.  Luckily I managed to avoid any serious water time although I came inches from stepping into a huge puddle that was covered in leaves.  If it hadn't just caught my attention I would have run right through it.  The myriad of puddles and the scores of loose stones kept me on my toes and forced me to focus on what lay directly ahead of me, not exactly the most relaxing run as I needed to keep alert.

As I crested one hill I was presented with a deep valley with a steep and rocky incline on the other end that looked like it was going to be interesting to ascend.  And then I noticed the river at the base of the valley.  Not good.  I spied a fallen tree about 50 yards away so I made my way through the underbrush, climbed up onto the log spanning the river and proceeded to shimmy my way across.  Once on the other side I had to gingerly make my way through a maze of brambles back onto the trail.  Then I finally got to tackle that huge incline with the terrible and shifting footing.

Finally back in a rhythm it wasn't long until I came smack-dab up against a chain-link fence.  Great, no way around.  There to one side the fence was a bit pushed down, obviously by others like myself, so I climbed it and manged to get over it with only a few minor snags.  Protip: running shorts are not the best clothing to wear when scaling fences.

Back up to speed, I crossed over a road, followed some train tracks, and made my way up a hill to where I thought the path continued.  It did not.  I was presented with a vista in front of me that included a nearly half-mile of boggy lowlands crisscrossed by multiple streams and wetlands.

"Ah, f this" I muttered and turned for home.  Back over the fence, ford the river, avoid the puddles, and fight the underbrush all the way home.  For a grand total of 3.5 miles.  We shall chalk that run up to experience.

Sunday I went for a longer run and on the way back I actually ran along the stretch of trail that I knew to be obstacle free so it wasn't a total loss.  Saturday's run was more of a reconnaissance mission and now that I know which parts to stick to I can use them whenever I am feeling adventurous.


  1. The trails at Hale are pretty fun to run. You might try there. I went out to run last week at the trails at the end of Sandy Valley Road in WW. Right before I ran into the woods I saw a sign warning people that coyotes have been roaming, and to walk the trails at your own risk.
    Yep. That ended my trail running adventure right there. Back to the roads where I belong!

  2. Yeah I don't blame you for the "f this" decision -- I'd have done the same thing. Although what you describe is precisely what some runners mean when they talk about 'trail running', I limit myself to things like the green dot trail around Ponkapoag. Good footing, modest hills, nice wide path. It's just a refreshing change from pavement.

  3. ahhh... thanks, Jeff! So much easier now.