HIking · Injury · Running · Trail Running

A Race Can Change You

Hi everyone!  As I get further away from the Lost Lake Run, and I begin to finally walk normally again and process what happened, I’ve got to admit something:  Lost Lake changed me.  I went into that race as an injured road runner who loved hiking, and came out as a trail runner.  Me!  A trail runner!  It’s so crazy that I’m still trying to take it in.

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Even as I re-read my Lost Lake Run recap, I notice that I mentioned that I had fun “pretending to be a trail runner”.  Except that when I honestly think about it, I could definitely call myself a trail runner now.  I ran probably 1/3 of a 16 mile mountain trail with a 2,100 ft elevation gain, and I did it in 5 hours with an injury.  I kept a constant uphill pace on some pretty crazy terrain, and managed to run more on a 6 mile downhill portion than I’ve run in any other race this year.  I had fun bouncing around on rocks, tree roots, muddy patches, and across streams.  And even though it got really tough at the bottom of the mountain, I can honestly said I enjoyed every moment of that trail race.

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It hit me when I ran past mile 13 that I’ve spent so many half marathons struggling along roads and desperately wanting to finish a race that I had spent months training for (with those long weekend runs…ugh).  But there I was, running downhill on a gorgeous trail on the side of a mountain looking down towards my favorite town on earth, and I couldn’t help but perk up even though I still had 3 miles left.  At each difficult moment in this race I was instantly able to pull myself out of my misery by looking around at the gorgeous scenery around me, and I finished that race without anything left to give and a huge smile on my face.

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Official (and blurry!) finish line photo!

Ever since crossing that finish line, I feel like maybe I’ve been doing this running thing wrong for years now.  Maybe I’m not supposed to spend my entire summer pushing through long road runs just to run another half marathon.  Maybe I’m supposed to hike all summer long and learn how to run downhill fast without wiping out instead.  The fact that I can’t road run without re-injuring myself but I can hike just fine should be telling me something.  So I’ve got a lot to think about after this race.  I might not ever run that marathon I have on my bucket list, but I’m thinking that Lost Lake 2017 sounds pretty good…

Do you like road running or trail running better?  If you’re a trail runner, how did you make the leap from road running to trail running?  Did a race ever change you as a runner?

20 thoughts on “A Race Can Change You

  1. Before I moved to the UK, I ran mostly on roads and when you are used to road running you are fine with it.
    But since I run trails only, I realized, what for a huge difference it makes. Not only are trails easier on the joints (especially on my knees), a trail run seems so much shorter than a road run because it changes so often.
    In spring I did a road run (half marathon) in the lake district. And let me tell you, the lake district is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK, but doing the race was gruesome, the roads seem to go on and on and on….
    No road race for me in the future!!!

  2. Yay! I switched from primarily roads to trails a couple years ago. As you mentioned, the scenery makes all the difference! I’m always eager to get out and explore more natural places rather than dreading the grind. And the constant change of pace (hiking uphill, bombing downhill) seems to make recovery easier for me. Good luck!

  3. I’m pretty much a road runner but I’ve done a couple of trail marathons, and they are by far my best memories really. I was able to let go of the clock (you just don’t run a trail marathon as fast as a road one!). The changing scenery along with the changing terrain and elevation just makes it all so enjoyable. When I finished those trail marathons I felt on top of the world. They were the most difficult and yet the most rewarding adventures. Every time I hit a trail for a run, I think to myself that I really need to do that more often.

  4. On Wednesdays I run a route that is a mix of trail and pavement. I like the trail portion because if challenges me and gets me out of my comfort zone. But that last half mile of pavement always comes with a feeling of being home. I think I’m a road runner. If course that could change when I sign up for my first trail race.

  5. I can completely relate to this. After spending this summer doing a lot of hiking and trail running, it’s igniting a passion in me I didn’t know existed. I always thought I would never be a trail runner, but that could change. It’s such a different experience.

  6. I love trail running, but I’m so clumsy that I’m terribly slow. I’ve fallen in half of my trail races. I’m the opposite of you! I need road racing to keep from being injured. hahaha

  7. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too! I am training for and running my second marathon in October but want to do a trail race next. I just love being out on the trails so much and I think one of the things I love most about running is being in nature and exploring new places… so it seems like a logical fit! That’s great this race was such a positive and meaningful experience for you.

  8. Welcome to trail running! Prepare to never go back to running on roads. There’s nothing like running down a technical trail where you have to be purely in the moment in order to keep your balance/prevent face plants! As a fervent trail runner, I hope your summer is filled with loads of outdoor fun!

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