As a road racer first, I learned specific rules and techniques that work for me. From those rules and the various distances I have trained for, I also developed a "road mentality."
My road mentality is one that doesn't want to stop and walk ever during a marathon or training run (although sometimes it happens). My road mentality needs minimal fuel in the form of Shot Bloks or Luna Moons every 30 min after the 60 min mark. My road mentality gets cranky when my pace is slower than 9 min/mile.
Thanks to running with other experienced trail runners and simply spending more time on the sometimes mushy, outdoorsy pedestrian freeways, here are a few things I've learned about TRAIL and the attitude that comes with it:
- Eat early and often - you'll need more than some Shot Bloks and Gatorade to get you through a substantial run. Try pb&j sandwiches, Larabars or homemade protein ballz, baked potato/sweet potato, chips, etc. Accelerade is rocking my world in the realm of hydration.
- Appreciate your surroundings - When I take a moment to notice the beautiful trees and water I'm running near, my worries seem just a little less important.
- Groups will take breaks AKA stop running - to refuel, regroup and chat. As hard as it is on my Type A "road mentality", I'm slowly gaining a more relaxed trail attitude.
- Fuel the beast - While you could survive a 10 or so mile road run without water or food, it's not a good idea on trail. You're working harder and your body is burning a whole heck of a lot o calories running up and down those hills.
- Walking is okay - Seriously, I didn't think my road mentality in this realm could back down. But I've learned that walking when the hills are really steep or long (or simply when my body demands it), allows me to run further and not lose much time because I saved the energy I would have wasted if I had run up those hills.
- Invest in trail shoes - I've been meaning to get some for months, but really I need to just bite the bullet. There have been a few close calls where I almost rolled an ankle or I stepped on a sharp rock and could feel it right through the soles of my everyday running shoes.
- Watch your step and pick up your feet - If you don't, you'll end smack down on the ground as I have a few times before. Rocks, roots and branches are frequent on trails.
- Run for time rather than mileage - This one has still been tough for me because I can't not go out and do a run thinking "Today I need to run __ miles." And obviously, whether I like it or not, this race is going to be ~31 miles.