Comparing road running to trail running is like comparing baseball to basketball. Just because they both involve a ball, doesn’t mean they are the same. For a road marathoner, the transition to trails comes with a plethora of lessons and surprises. Over the last few months, Kara Goucher has been transitioning from elite road marathoner to time on the trails in Boulder, Colorado. Yesterday, she shared her lessons from the trails on Oiselle’s blog.
Forget time and pace
For the avid trail runner, mud, snot, and shots to the ego are part of the everyday. For a roadie like Goucher, the trails not only represent physical differences, but require a shift in mindset as well. Goucher writes about how different time and pace are on the trails. Once upon a time, she could anticipate how long a 10K run would take her. On the trails, weather, terrain and other variables make time more unpredictable.
“I’ve had 8 mile runs take 60 minutes and then as long as 100 minutes on the trails,” she says. Goucher has had to let go of pacing expectations as well. “It’s so hard to predict your pacing here. There are hills, rocks, wildlife, oh my! Pacing doesn’t matter, getting through the terrain does.”
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I know @catberad well enough to giggle when she sends me a text inviting me to run 15 “easy” with her. It’s not that she hammers the pace, but she chooses terrain that really tests my limits. Two firsts today- my first summit and my first run with over 3000ft of vertical climb. Thanks for being such a great mentor Cat! I love/am terrified of our runs together!
Goucher has mastered the art of snot rockets. While focusing on her foot placement, she realized how much more she was sniffling or wiping snot on her gloves. “I’ve got really good at shooting out the snot rocket.” Goucher recommends stopping and looking up sometimes. “The trails are amazing. Every time I’m out there I am reminded of how large the world is and how insignificant I really am.”
Bring awareness and essentials
Living in Boulder, Goucher felt competent for what to do if she saw a bear or a mountain lion. When she saw a mountain lion on the trails, she says, “I did everything wrong. Practice these things. It sounds silly but it might just save your life!”
Since Goucher’s 25K runs on the trails can take her up to three hours, she’s learned to bring a hydration pack of supplies with her. “It’s great to be out in the great wild, but you need to be safe as well.”