Friday, December 10, 2010

The catch-22 of trail running

See the pretty waterfall to the right? DON'T LOOK AT IT!

As pthrift pointed out in the last post, there is an unfortunate contradiction when it comes to trail running, and races in particular.

One of the appealing aspects of running on trails is the beauty of the surroundings, the trees, rocks, streams, and critters of Mother Nature. This brings up the first rule of trail running, which says: DO NOT LOOK AT ANY OF IT.

TRAIL RUNNING RULE #1: Keep your eyes on the trail. Not only do you have to know where to put your feet, but you must also be alert for low hanging branches or the sign for the next turn. 
I have fallen on my face, twisted my ankle, gotten lost, and bonked my head more times than I can count. So I try to stick to Rule #1 as much as possible. As a consequence, I never get to see any of the beautiful parks we visit for trail races.

The picture above is great example. I have run Run at the Rock 3 times. With 2 loops each, that means I ran by that waterfall 6 times and never once did I see it, until Shannon showed me the picture.

I got so focused on the trail last Saturday that when I was running one of the steep, rocky, downhill sections, my eyes started to hurt. I think they were freezing over because I was too afraid to blink.
Fortunately I got tired and had to walk. Otherwise I might have finished the race and had to ask the medical staff: "Excuse me, can you help me? My eye lids seem to be frozen open."

So, on your next trail run remember these things:

1. Watch the trail
2. Enjoy the nature around you. There is a waterfall, some deer, a turtle, some flowers... but don't look at them. Trust me they are there.
3. Don't forget to blink.

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