Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Trail Runs

Where do you like to run?  Not where, really, but what surface do you prefer?  I've been thinking about this since trying a trail run about a month ago.  It was challenging, a bit painful, yet exhilarating.

I have had a lot of fear about running and walking on uneven surfaces since dislocating my ankle about four years ago.  The accident left me with a plate and 11 various pins and screws in my left ankle, foot, and shin and a few lovely scars.  Much worse than having a bunch of hardware in my body, I have a lingering fear to overcome and in general, I prefer to keep my feet on a nice, smooth, hard and predictable surface.  Concrete.  Thank goodness I live in the city.

Stepping off the beaten path challenges that fear.  Grass, a deer trail, sandy dune, soft meadow, or a spongy marsh asks so much more of the body.  All those little muscles, tendons and ligaments that become so used to the straightforward pounding of the sidewalk, are stretched and strengthened in  ways I didn't think possible.  My running partner on that first trail run assured me that in time, those muscles will strengthen and lend me greater confidence in my stride. 

It has been so worth it to get off the beaten path, even when in the city and I'm only a couple of feet to the side of my beloved pavement.  In the country, however, that is where the true pleasure lies.  To see a flock of wild turkeys, or a mob of deer when rounding a bend in the grass makes the discomfort insignificant.  For that, I now save my off days for the trail.

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