"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trail Running Laws

A whirlwind two weeks has gone by. Many times "blog post" has made it to the top of the list, only to have some other mini-emergency (that includes grocery shopping!) usurp it. I am still looking down at a pretty long "do" list on my desk, but nothing in red ink tonight ;)

Citizenship run - do I look different now that I'm "dual"?
I've been down to the track the last two Tuesdays in a row and eeked out a few second PBs in both the 4k and the 5k. Quite happy with that, because there's a lot of mileage and hills in these legs right now, plus I run to and from the track, too. It certainly helps make the whole thing a bit more rewarding, because running short track races is HARD! Those guys think running ultras would be hard, but I never feel as bad finishing an ultra as a 3k! (Maybe I'm just doing ultras wrong?)

The citizenship ceremony was short and functional. As my Canadian family said, I kissed the queen and hugged the roo. Then I was off for more fun hill running with mates to celebrate! 

Cape to Cape track - there were humpback whales!
Last Saturday I made a long drive down to Geographe Bay - 3 hours south of Perth - to do a 3 hour run with a minimalist footwear hippy-type on a section of the Cape to Cape track. Then it was the same drive home. It was hard at times to convince myself to go, but I just had to watch the Australian Geographic video on this place to win myself over again and again. And I got 6 hours of nutrition and ultra running podcasts to listen to on the way, which was really enjoyable. I never have the time for podcasts and am fortunate not to spend much time in the car normally. It was a great day, meeting new trail runners, learning more things trail and ultra related, and even trying some new foods, courtesy of the huarache-wearing runner.

Last Sunday there were just three of us out for a long run (well, the fourth was late/lost/MIA)- with two of us choosing the 50k option. I finished the week with 147km and +2600 mtrs, happy and well.

This weekend just finished, the distances are starting to shrink. But midweek speed attempts increased. On Saturday I hosted two PTS Beginners+ Trail Running courses. That means an 8k hill-interval session in the morning, then another in the afternoon, as I run up and down hills, offering runners advice on technique. I love seeing people's skills improve and their smiles as they build confidence and start enjoying the sport more. Rewarding day and fended off all the ticks.

I couldn't resist it when we passed this little waterfall today
Today a group of us spent the morning at a great national park, dripping in sweat in the heat and lapping up every bit of water we could find! It won't be long before not a drop will be seen around the hills - summer sucks the moisture out of our "sunburnt country."

Meeting some new trail runners these past couple weeks and running the PTS courses gave me pause to consider the Five Laws of Trail Running...with apologies to Deepak, as I have been a bit overwhelmed with his "Laws" of late ;)

Law #1: The Law of 100 to 1. Forget your road running background Forget 4.30 pace or 5.30 pace or even splits. In trail running, if you want a number to focus on, use this: 100 metres of climb is worth about 1km on the flat. Do the conversion first before you tell your road running mate how "far" you ran on the weekend.

Beware, even this could be a secret race...biggest splash.
Law #2: The Law of Secret Racing. You may think you're out for an easy run with your mates. But be aware...there is always secret racing. New guy comes out with the group? Yup, just watch all the secret racing. First, the new guy has to 'race' others to show he's not weak and is worthy of the group (if not stronger than the group). Second, the veteran runner has to 'race' said newbie to try to induce vomiting in newbie and ensure pecking order is established ;) See everyone get to a turnaround point and come back to you? Be careful - it could be a secret race. If you don't touch the summit/pole/bridge/tree, you might lose, without even knowing it!

Law #3: The Law of Gear Love. Anything you carry on your back for more than 1.5hrs, up and down hills, over 15,000 strides must be loved. That includes your shoes, shirt, pack, fuel, and headlamp. You will hate shonky gear or bad fuel. And trail running is all about love. So don't forget about the gear love law.

Applying Law #5 liberally here! Flies and drippy sweaty heat at 8.30 AM!
Law #4. The Law of Pride. Barring a bit of healthy secret racing, pride has no place on the trails. You might get nauseous, feel a blister coming on, run out of water, feel your pack chafing incessantly, or realise you forgot to pack your fuel whilst on a 3 hour run. Trail running with others is a team sport. One man goes down and you all might be going down. Letting small issues become big issues because of pride is a selfish thing that affects your trail running mates, too. Being reduced to a walk because of vomiting, lack of fuel, or a blister puts a damper on the trail running party for sure! Maybe someone else could have helped you solve the dilemma before it was a disaster.

Law #5: The Law of Lies. Sometimes it's too hot. Or cold. Or windy, rainy, icy. There are snakes, ticks, brambles, bears, hills. And you say "this sucks." Beware, as this is your road runner mind that has accidentally forgotten where it is. Your trail runner mind knows. You lie. This is fun! How great to be in nature, out of the city, getting fitter by the minute! Tonight I can eat chips and drink beer guilt free! Your fun on the trail will be directly proportional to your lie rate. Take some mates out with you on the trails, because group lies are more powerful.

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