Lessons from the Trail

I’m linking up today with the Wednesday Word link up, hosted by Debbie. Today’s Wednesday Word is lost. I’ve been doing a lot of trail running this year, and getting lost is always something you have to be aware of.

Deb Runs

Today’s word prompt reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2014 when I was just getting into trail running. Here is a rerun of six lessons from the trail that still hold true today…

1. You’re going to go slower, and that’s okay. Hills on trails tend to be more frequent and steeper, in my experience. That, in addition to the terrain (roots, rocks, etc.), is likely going to slow you down 2-3 minutes/mile. Sometimes you have to take a walk break, and that’s okay. Be forewarned, running downhill can be just as challenging as running uphill.

2. Plan for the unexpected. You should carry extra water/fuel in case you’re out longer than planned. It’s also a good idea to always make sure someone knows in general where you plan to run, and how long you expect to be gone. I often carry my cell phone in my pack, just in case.

3. Don’t be afraid to explore. Look at a trail map beforehand, if possible, to plan a route and avoid getting lost. Once you’re out on the trail, take note: The scenery is beautiful, but you’ll be spending more time looking at the ground.

4. Don’t get obsessed over the data. Take your specific Garmin data with a grain of salt. When you’re in the woods, your GPS watch can lose its connection with satellites. Also, see #1. But if you do happen to run up a mountain, enjoy the elevation profile. It’ll make you feel like a bada@@.

Elevation profile from this past weekend’s Eastern Divide 50K

5. Sign up for a race. What better way to immerse yourself in the trail running community than to run a race? In my experience, the trail running community is knitted even more tightly than the general running community, and they will welcome newcomers with open arms. Trail races also tend to be smaller, and have lots of special touches.

6. Have fun. Don’t avoid the mud or the icy cold creek water – charge right through them both! Even if you don’t invest in trail shoes, it won’t take long for you to have a pair of shoes that are designated as ‘trail shoes’. They’ll be the ones that don’t come into the house, because they smell like the creek.

wild things

Sometimes getting ‘lost’ in nature isn’t such a bad thing.

Have you ever gotten lost?
When can getting lost be a good thing?

4 thoughts on “Lessons from the Trail”

  1. My 5k on Staurday was in the trails (totally missed that of the course review) and I was terrified. I am such a clutz and I was so focused I would trip over a root…just as I was thinking about it, a girl face planted in front of me.

    I want to try it for real but scared.

    Thanks for the tips!

  2. I always assumed I wasn’t lost until I was out of gas. I guess you can apply the same principals to trail running.


  3. All good tips! I love trail running and I am trying to commit to going more often to Pocahontas and take my time and enjoy it. I wish I could get to the mountain trails more often! I am going to get at least three more good Blue Ridge hikes/runs in this summer…that is my goal anyway.

  4. You have turned into quite the trail runner! When and where did you go on your first trail run? Seventeen miles along the Appalachian Trail in the JFK 50-Miler in 1997 was my first ever trail running experience, and running the NFEC Marathon in 2010 was my second!

    Thanks for linking up!

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