I’ve recently signed up for a quarter marathon trail race. This will be my first race since my half marathon in early November 2016. This is a rugged course that would be a challenge to run even one mile. A few years ago, I ran a 5k race on part of this course and lost out on my first Age Grouper medal because as I was flying down a hillside, I stopped to help a panic stricken, screaming runner that had landed in the ravine and managed to get barbwire fencing gouged into her leg.
Today’s training run for the quarter marathon was a four-mile run in the trails. I’m not going for the big training hills yet, but plan to incorporate a few of those into the training schedule in July. Today I included gradual inclines, normally a push for me as I just bumped up my miles two days ago. But with the regular training and now the added boxing with my personal trainer, my legs are much stronger and I’m finding it less of a challenge to push in areas that I would normally struggle.
Thank you, Mother Nature, the weather was perfect today! Low 70 temps, plenty of humidity, but a nice breeze to distract from it AND on top of that, I was back in the trails with plenty of shade overhead! Today’s run was a pleasant experience and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
As I was out running this morning, I realized all the pitfalls and unforeseen circumstances that I took for granted after years of running this route. I knew what risks were going to be present and when they would be there, what time of year to watch for what. Even still, the occasional injury or misstep can occur and it is important to always be aware of your surroundings and your immediate foot placement.
Preparing for your race or training run is worth the extra time and thought you put into it and will pay you back ten times over if you plan accordingly. For my run this morning, I took/used the following:
· Bug Spray (Pre-run)
· Water-Juice Mix (Pre-run)
· Paper towels
I wore a headband to keep the perspiration from my eyes. I did not want to deal with the bug spray mixing with the sweat and getting into my eyes either.
I had my towel and ice, but took it back to the car as I didn’t feel I would need the coolant for the temps today and would use the paper towels to dry myself off.
While prep is a large part of safety, i.e. hydrating well before, during (when/if needed) and after your run, preventing bug stings, fuel so you don’t overdo it, etc., there is an equally important and sinister assailant lurking around every corner and waiting for the perfect opportunity to trip you up, quite literally.
Look at some of the seemingly harmless photos below and see if you can find the items you’ll need to be prepared to avoid.
There are several ways in which you can be caught off guard and injure yourself, so it is important to always be aware of foot placement:
· Tripping on roots or stumps.
· Rolling an ankle on walnuts, beechnuts, pinecones, rocks, et al.
· Hitting a patch of slippery mud and losing your footing. This could be hiding beneath leaves and look completely harmless. It happens quite a bit in Fall here in the Midwest.
· Animals. As a vegan, you may try to avoid stepping on the smaller ones i.e. snakes, and can lose your footing trying to miss them last minute, or if you don’t try to avoid them, could lose your footing if you do step on them, (or freak out!). There are larger animals to be aware of as well and you will need to avoid a run-in with them to prevent them from attack, (rare, but it can happen, better to circumnavigate).
· Other people. Always know where you are and if need be, your best escape route. Be aware if someone has been following you for a while and get out into an open area with more people so you’re not a target. They may simply be on the same route as you, but be aware and when necessary, use prevention.
You want to always be aware of everything around you, beneath you, and even overhead, (watch for low hanging or falling branches!). It is a lot to remember, but important for your safety and it will all eventually become second nature.
Another thing you can do for yourself is sign up for a self-defense course. It would be good to get a plan of action ingrained into your memory so you don’t need to think. If you ever need it, you will simply react. Another benefit of this is the added strength training you will receive.
None of this is meant to scare or deter you, but simply to make you aware. Running is a truly rewarding sport and will give you so much in return, but even more so if you aren’t laid up with an injury.
Now, lace up and go for a run!