Trail Running Rollup from Last Year
I decided in late 2019 that I wanted to start trail running. I hike regularly, and
sometimes while hiking I've thought
"I'd really like to run this trail instead of walking it".
And so I decided that I would try to do 26 trail runs in 2020, and while
it took 362 of 365 days to pull it off, I ran my 26th on Dec 30th (the 1st one was on Jan 3rd).
I'd like to share some random stats/observations, in no particular order:
- I would never run 11 miles on pavement, but apparently I'll happily do so on a trail of dirt and rocks
and crossed by the occasional downed tree, all in the middle of nowhere. I find running on
the street, or around Greenlake, to be really boring, and so I've mostly stopped that type of run.
- The first mile is the hardest. If I remember my exercise science correctly, this is because the Kreb's
Cycle hasn't kicked in yet (this take 10-12 minutes to begin), so your body is not producing
the energy you need for exercise.
- The average run was 6.36 miles with 1,334 feet of elevation gain. That may not seem like much, but I
think the way to really understand it is to go outside and run up, say, a few hundred feet of
gain over a mile or two, and just see how that feels.
- The longest run was 9.5 miles
with 3,084 feet of elevation gain. I didn't actually make it to the lake, due to (a) there was
lots of snow (b) i ran out of water (c) I was alone, in the middle of nowhere, and kept
getting lost because the trail was under snow (d) I had no GPS locator, no cell service
(I made it to within 1/4 mile of the lake, and if I had had a map, I would have gone all the way).
- My nominal pace is in the 11 to 15 minutes per mile range. it's wickedly variant, e.g.: it
took me 20 minutes to find a place to cross a creek once, and that sort of thing just lays
waste to any kind of pacing. It's just difficult to keep a reasonable pace when all you're
worried about is breaking an ankle. When the landscape is reasonably civilized, I'm around 11
minutes/mile (which also may not seem like much, but by all means, run up a thousand feet
of gain and then measure your pace in the subsequent mile - it definitely suffers). They
say true wisdom is gained through experience!
- I've started running longer distances in 2021 (this past weekend I ran 11 miles). as a result, I've
had to start bringing some calories along with me to consume along the way. otherwise, I just
run out of energy and hit the wall (usually right around the 7 mile mark).
- I've stopped bringing more than 8oz of water. I bring a small device to filter water instead, and
try to run in places where there are creeks and lakes, which is really easy to do here in
the Pacific NW.
- The most likely injury is easily a broken ankle. The 2nd most likely is a broken leg. To mitigate
this risk, I now bring a GPS-enabled personal locator.
- Easily the most punishing/soul-crushing run was called Rainy Lake, which is about 7 miles in
length and has 2,700 feet of elevation gain. This run is a symphony of misery and punishment
and you would have to be out of your mind to think of it as a trail run.
Here's part of the spreadsheet I keep to see how the trails compare. I'm pretty sure green means:
- The shortest (in column "Miles")
- The smallest elevation (in column "Elevation Gain")
- The quickest pace
The red means:
- The longest (in column "Miles")
- The most elevation (in column "Elevation Gain")
- The slowest pace
Did I Mention I'm a Big Fan of Spreadsheets?