A few days ago Scott Jurek announced he would be running the Appalachian Trail as a last hurrah before retiring. In other sports, icons tend to make a slow descent into irrelevance, trying to hold on to their stardom as their physical skills fade. In Jurek’s case, he’s going to do something few others would even contemplate: leaving on a high note. Even if he doesn’t break a record, he’ll still accomplish something few else can claim. (By the way, if you don’t know what the Appalachian Trail is, read this).
I was thinking about Jurek, and the difference between running on trails and roads, and why I enjoy trail races so much this morning as I ran a short loop in a park right in downtown Rochester. I imagined slipping through the mountains, all by myself…probably dead in twenty minutes at Jurek’s pace.
Trail Running is Not Boring. Trail running is a forward-moving mental puzzle. Step here? Look out for that root! Mud? No, horse crap! Jump! Oh no, a puddle!
Trail Running Puts You in Touch. You’re among the trees, with animals moving about, branches to duck and sights to see. Even if I’m racing, I have to slow down and look around more. It’s very Zen. And a good excuse to rest.
Trail Running is Easy(er) on the Joints. You are not pounding your ankles, knees and hips into fine dust on the concrete. Sure, you could trip on a rock and face plant into a tree, but hey, where’s the fun if there’s no risk?
Trail Running gets Messy. Seems like almost everyone is doing a 5k these days, and good for them. But if you want to take it up a notch, run trails. Nothing says “I’m having fun” like freezing mud up to your knees.