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Kara Goucher’s lessons from the trails

Professional marathoner Kara Goucher talks about her transition from roads to trails

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.

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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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Look up

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.”

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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.”

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