After running a marathon, I wanted to try something a little different. This year, I signed up for a 50km trail run. (That's 31.1mi for those metrically challenged.) I thought what's so hard about doing another 5miles. Plus I get to run on trails and see more of nature compared to the hot pavement of city streets and highways.
After several weeks of training, I know see the difference. I took it for granted that my feet should know how high to step to avoid things in their path. In a marathon, you spend most of the time looking up at the horizon to take your mind off your feet. But during trail runs, not looking at your feet and what's in front of you can stop you in your tracks, literally.
I came back from my first run, with sore ankles, cuts and lots of mud. Muscles that never get involved in running were suddenly complaining about what I had put them through. Now I know it's not so much all about the cardio or breathing, but equal amounts core training and hill work. Thankfully, I've always been running on hilly streets. Now I'm just getting use to the rocks, roots, and other surprises waiting to put a damper on increasingly sore feet.
Fortunately, I'm up to running 15-16 mi over trails. I think by next week I'll be able to do another long run up to 20mi. During the week, I stick with shorter 10mi runs with multiple hills, stairs, and stretches of trail.
My biggest concern is not getting tired but getting sore. It's like the ground is rising up to try and slow you down. It's taken some time to get use to my new trail shoes as well. Their heaviness can be disconcerning but I appreciate the grip of their treads and the sole's thicker protection.
If my first 50km goes well, I'll be back for more. If not.... I'll probably still be back.