Admit it. You’ve been thinking about it for awhile. A whole lot, and not just thoughts here and there. You’ve even looked up race calendars and tried to mentally work up if a trail race could fit in the schedule.
How does one know if you’re in TRANSITION? Scan the checklist below and let’s find out the glaring truth.
You’ve run out of ROADS. It cannot be helped, that after years or even decades of road-racing, especially if you have leveled up your game into marathons and ultramarathons, there comes a nagging feeling that you’ve been there and done that. And then you chanced upon the JazzRunner’s blog on the recently-concluded Salomon XTrail Pilipinas that have you oggling at forest trails, rolling hills and brooks teeming with fresh running water…and then you ponder: I have to get OFF the ROADS and into the TRAILS.
You’ve busted your PRs. Even the best of us have limits and when we have peaked earlier than the pack, it could be a bitter pill to swallow. If you are the competitive type, it’s ultimately a choice between watching yourself slow down into obscurity, or take the challenge somewhere, where the performance could mean something meaningful again.
You’re in for a REALITY CHECK. Age is not the only limiting factor but it’s more of the fast and consistent wear and tear of your leg and feet muscular-skeletal components that goes with years of pounding the pavement. Because we love running so much, we continue to run despite the injuries that will never get resolved or totally healed as biomechanical changes have already altered our strides and landings. However, this does not mean that trail-running will not directly or indirectly cause injury or pain. On the contrary, the technical aspects of the trail-running must be learned and applied to prevent injury.There’s no shortcut around this as the trails are full of danger zones to the unskilled and stubborn runner.
You are a NATURE-FREAK. Not everyone enjoys being away from the trappings of the digital age or being far from the comforts of racing in commercial roads. Not everyone understands that running in plush greenery equates to a cleaner air to breathe, for two reasons: 1) away from the metropolis is away from pollution, and 2) local flora takes in carbon dioxide, thereby absorbing retained heat in the atmosphere. No wonder it’s cooler to run in trails. And then there are the water elements such as rivers, brooks, falls to mention a few. To see and be with nature is always a perfect reason to travel and allocate budget for.
You are beginning to love COMPANY. Sometimes it’s really exhilarating to run solo and clear your mind. But, in the great outdoors, we are reminded of our social nature and the need to depend on others to get to the destination. Sure we can stay competitive but the FUN is as important as a goal at ensuring the race was worth investing on.
When you fall into any of these reasons and are contemplating on your first trail adventure, consider these basic MUST-HAVEs to make the experience just a stepping stone to leveling up the experience:
Sign up for the NEWBIE category, even if you’ve already been doing long distance road races for awhile. The principle of progressive increments applies here too. Too much, too soon can lead to severe muscle soreness and longer recovery.
Suit up appropriately up with good trail shoes, longer pants, arms and legs sleeves and a windbreaker, depending on the climate ahead.
Gear up with a cap/visor, a water belt or bag and cell phone for communication.
Be a good SCOUT by coming prepared with some simple first-aid staples.
Train for rolling hills as you never know when it will come in handy.
Remember, to become a TRAIL RUNNER is not an endpoint, but opens one to even bigger and more challenging possibilities. Skills are never lost hence we will be able to recruit them as often as we need, even if we move on to more trail adventures or get back on the concrete once in a while.