A Return to the Roads? Sort of…

by nomeatbarefeet

across the road

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that last year Katie and I decided to run almost exclusively on the trails. There were a number of reasons for this, but the primary one was that we were simply tired with the roads. We have found a haven in the form of Hard’ack, the name we have used to cover everything in the Aldis Hill Recreation Area. These trails (which are literally right out our door) made it really easy to perfect our trail running. Trail offered a sense of freedom and escape that was sorely needed. Running on roads had become really boring, plus we found that in our transition to more minimal footwear the trails were much more forgiving. This dedication to trails continues, but there are a number of factors that have forced us to consider flatter terrain.

  • Katie’s return to running requires her to run on flatter surfaces. Roads fit this, but so too does the Missisquoi Rail Trail. While it is not our favorite, it is fast becoming an important resource.
  • The first two races of the season (last month’s Kaynor’s Sap 10k and the upcoming Rollin’ Irish 1/2 Marathon) are both on the roads. To get my body ready means that I have to run on the roads or on the rail trail.
  • You can only do so much fast running over long distances on the trails here in Vermont. Most trails are hilly and technical, so doing extensive speed or tempo work is virtually impossible unless you run loops around shorter trails. This is doable, but often times doing speed and tempo runs on flatter terrain is preferable. So, moving on the roads and the rail trail is the most logical option.

I listened to a recent interview with Bart Yasso over at Trail Runner Nation and he talked a great deal about the importance of trail runners getting off the trails and do work on the roads or on the track. Usually I am pretty set in knowing what works for me, and while I listened to what Bart had to say I didn’t really think too much about it. Subsequently, I have given it a bit more thought, and come to the conclusion that integrating more work off trail—especially fartlek and tempo runs—will help better my speed on the trail.

It really isn’t that hard. I usually wind up running about a mile to the rail trail head, and then click off the mile-markers on the rail trail. There is a marker every half mile, so it is easy to keep track of how far you go. Plus, the grade is really low (something like 3% over the entire trail). While it is, to use Katie’s works, “boring,” I think it will have to simply be another aspect of our running life. Change and acceptance are indispensable parts of existence.

I will always run in this…


…but while I don’t really “like” running on the roads I will accept that there are times when I have to; what is more, there might be times when, to better my trail running, I need to step off the leaves and rocks and step onto the pavement and gravel. What comes of it, I don’t know. What I do know is that I did 11 miles on the rail trail the other day and felt great after finishing. Not often can I say that. I was happy; I’ll accept what ever comes.

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