Trail Running For Dummies.

Fact: Trail running ain’t easy.
It is NOT for the weak.
Or the squeamish.
Or the insectophobic.
Or the whatever the word for “fear of turtles” is. (Note: It’s chelonaphobia. And yes. I am a dork.)


Seeing as how my next big adventure is a 50k in Vermont, a state NOT known for being Flat as a Pancake, I decided that I needed to really put some time in the woods, trail running. 31 miles on trails is an awful lot different than 26.2 miles on the road. And I’m nervous about it.

By the way, if you are training for a Fall Marathon or Ultra and are looking for bloggers doing the same, my buddy Salt @ Run Salt Run has put together this awesome list of bloggers who are training for their Next Big Thing. Check out The Fall Training Run Blogger Directory here. Maybe someone out there is running the same thing as you or has developed a fear of turtles or is also figuring out how to conceal a black toenail (Opi’s Lincoln Park After Dark. Trust me.) Check It out. And Salt. She Rocks!

So back to Saturday. I ran. For 2 hours. Solo. In the woods. It was the morning after a day of TORRENTIAL downpours. And it was warm. Like Steamy. Super steamy. And super green. Like neon. I should also add and it was insanely peaceful. And I loved it. The good thing about all that rain was that the trail really stood out. I didn’t get lost once. That in and of itself is EPIC. I was considering leaving a trail of shot blocks behind me, but quickly realized they would be eaten by wildlife the moment I tossed ’em. The bad thing about all that rain is that it brought out a plethora of woodland critters, crawly critters, sting-y critters, turtles, snakes, butterflies…you name it. The trails were ALIVE up in here. It was a party! And I loved being a guest.

I will say that there is a definite learning curve trail running. Here are a few of the lessons I learned this weekend:

1. Tie your goddamn laces LIKE YOU MEAN IT. Loose laces mean loose shoes which mean loose ankles will roll whilst navigating technical terrain. I learned that one 0.5 miles in. I’m quick like that.

2. Snapping Turtles are ANGRY. Do NOT tangle with a snapping turtle. Ever. Especially one laying her eggs. She will cut you. And hiss.


3. You will fall. Get used to it. Roots, rocks, sticks. They’re all out to get you. I’m the Queen of Falling. And have the facial scars to prove it. Get Rrrrready to Tumbbbbble!!!

4. Deer WILL scare the shit out of you. You will mistake them for a Mass Murderer and let out a scream. The scream will startle them and they will dash off leaving a heap of Deer Ticks in their wake. Schedule a Lyme Disease titer. STAT.

5. Do not stop for a selfie. You will wind up with Malaria, Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus or some other as yet to be named, mosquito born illness. Besides, you need every red blood cell in your body. Or an oxygen tank. This shit is tough.


6. Double check that all pockets containing iPhones, Sports Beans and car keys are ZIPPED UP. Shit can AND WILL bounce right on out. Then you’ll wind up freaking out in the woods, back tracking and running into a dangling inch worm who will peek over the rim of your cap, a millimeter from you eye, and wave all 50 of its hands at you.

I also learned that you can throw your road running pace out the goddamn window. You run a lot slower on trails. I guess I’d better get used to those Angry Turtles. We’re gonna be spending an awful lot of time together.

Road running or Trail running? What’s more annoying: gnats, mosquitoes or snapping turtles?



41 thoughts on “Trail Running For Dummies.

  1. Love this! Trails are so much harder than road running! I always laugh when people ask me to go trail running on the nice paved park sidewalks in our area. Trails are not for the weak or girly at all. Glad you had a great run!

  2. This post is so spot on. I love trail running for the unpredictable, borderline stupid, scary, weird nature of it. Plus it’s hard. I am pumped to hear about your 50k. I’m sticking to the 25k circuit this year, but it still have ultra aspirations on my mind. And I do get super freaked out by deer. Mostly because I always accidentally sneak up on them without noticing. One grunted at me a few weeks ago and I fell down. Good times.

    • HA! I am so THRILLED I’m not the only one! First of all. This deer was HUGE. And practically invisible. Scared the snot out of me. Instead of falling, I let out a Friday the 13th Scream. Only it was Saturday the 14th and I was screaming at a freaking deer, not a masked psychopath. I’m pumped for my 50k too. A little nervous. I think I’m really going to like it. Let the
      Adventures in Trail Running Begin! πŸ™‚

      • Trail running/racing is so intoxicating and addictive. I love trail races because everyone us just so chill and chatty. Plus anything over a 10 miler is generally like an all you can eat buffet tucked in the woods. It is such a different environment than any road race. I think if I had my way I would only trail run, but 90% of the year here is some sort of hunting season, and the only thing scarier than a big giant deer is the dude with a gun that thinks you are a big giant deer. πŸ™‚

  3. OK, forget the mosquitoes or gnats…. when trail running it’s the horse flys… i can out run the others, horse flys can keep up no matter what, drive me crrrazzzyyyy…. let’s run west woods some time, great trails so beautiful back there, let me know

    • Horse flies are the WORST. So bad. And those bitches can hang. Fortunately, I didn’t come across any. Snakes and spider webs were EVERYWHERE. I’m all about trails these days! I’ll totally go!!!

  4. This sounds so adventurous and naturey (is that a word?). I hardly ever trail run because we have a few woodsy trails that are paved (so they don’t really count), and I’d be too nervous to hit a hardcore TRAIL trail alone. I have a hard enough time fending off geese around a pond.

    • I have to admit. I’m kind of a chicken shit. But. I am equipped with a cell phone and cat like reflexes. So I just take a deep breathe and head out, hoping for the best. I do think that if I decide to go out longer, I need to do so with either my Other Half or my Crazy Trail Running Friend. Safety in numbers! πŸ™‚

  5. I laughed my way all the way through this. You are awesome and hilarious and I love your take on trail running. I’m a road runner myself (and our trails around here are lame…I can fall in a hole ever so often, but they aren’t technical). I think if I lived in a place that had mountains I could be more in love with it. Plus that turtle is scary. But I will say that gnats are way more annoying especially when they get stuck in my head.

    You’re running a 50K omg.

    (And thank you for the shout out! You are da BEST!)

    • Wasn’t she though?!?! She was wildly digging and laying eggs. All over the joint. I’m learning that I’m very near to lots of trails. That only took a lifetime to figure out! I thought of you when I was wiping gnats off of my face. Luckily I wasn’t blinded. Or have any lodged in my head. That I know of….

      Love the Blogger training page. Such a great idea Salt!! Xo

  6. Hmmmm. I still kinda consider road running in my neck of the woods to be like trail running because there are deer around, says the City Girl. And most of my favorite places to run are smack dab in the middle of big cities, so I guess I’m a road runner. (Beep. Beep.) I did used to run a trail in Newton, but I could see a Purity Supreme from most of it, so you probably wouldn’t consider it a real trail. There were mosquitos, though. I would definitely try trail running for the challenge of it but might need to wait until winter when the bugs relocate and the creepy crawlies hide underground. I’ll take a potential mugger over an angry turtle any day.

    • You crack me up. You’re coming with me, City Girl! Those trails are RIGHT in my ‘hood. I’ll keep the angry turtles at bay. I’m exploring trail race options after The Fairfield Half. We need an adventure…WAIT. WE HAVE OUR BIG APPLE ADVENTURE!!!!! Yippeeeeeee!

  7. I’ve recently started trail running and it’s a weird love! It wears me out and is tough, but I love the feeling of running over the rocks and roots. I’m definitely not graceful enough to do it for more than a few miles, though. You’re going to do awesome on your 50K! Just stay away from the turtles…

    • I am EXHAUSTED afterwards! You use your core so much more too. Graceful?!? What’s graceful?!?! I’m a hot mess! But I’m determined. So I guess that counts for something. Thanks for the well wishes! I have a feeling this is going to be a serious undertaking!! πŸ™‚

    • Love Vermont! Or Lovermont as it were! I’m running the VT50 which is at Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville VT. I’m running the 50K, not the 50 mile. I’m not THAT crazy. Yet. πŸ™‚ There is a mountain bike race associated with it as well that is hugely popular. Where in Vermont are you from!? My sister has a terrific place in Grafton, VT. As a result, I’m there quite a bit.

      • No way! My dad is the Inkeeper at the Grafton Inn! What a small world! πŸ™‚

        I live up in Burlington, but I’m doing a half marathon in Brattleboro on June 29.

      • GET. OUT. I can NOT believe that!!! What a small world is right!! Who woulda thunk???!?!? Such a great place. I’ll be staying in Grafton prior to the VT50. I just ran Vermont City Marathon in Burlington! We loved it. And the Heady Topper! πŸ™‚ So happy to have “met”! Maybe someday we’ll meet up at Grafton Ponds for a trail run.

        Ain’t that a kick! I’m totally floored!

      • So very cool! I’ve never done any trail running, but I’d definitely do it with a buddy πŸ™‚

        Ah, Heady Topper is great–have you tried Switchback?

      • I did not. But My Other Half did! We loved Burlington. We actually hung out at a Farmer’s Market after the marathon. It was a lot of fun. Great restaurants….and beer! πŸ™‚

  8. Ha, well at least you didn’t have to jump over any poisonous snakes this time around. Or run through spiderwebs and panically frantically flail your arms to get the giant spider off of you. The way I see it, you had it pretty easy.

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