A confession: As much as I love trail running, sometimes I think I like the idea of trail running more than the real deal.
I mean, I love the spongy sproing and how my feet never get bored and the way the woods looks different every single time. And of course I love the way it makes me feel about myself: “Whee! Look at me! I’m running through the woods!”
Still a romp through the woods is never pure pleasure. There‘s always the grassy stretch that applies a bit of drag to your stride and the final winding slog through what feels like a swamp even if it hasn’t rained for days. But few runs are pure euphoria from start to finish. I guess a trail run just magnifies the glorious along with the tedious.
So anyway, when my sister Traci suggested we hit the trail again after a hiatus of several weeks, I had that usual mixed bag of feelings: Psyched, mostly, but with a little subterranean angst about traipsing through Slog Bog.
Except this time, it really was more of a romp. The state park crew had cleared obstacles that had accumulated over the winter, the trail was about as dry as it ever gets and — this was the best part — we had the distinct impression that all this triathlon cross training is making us stronger. How else to explain how zippy we felt at the end of our usual 5-mile loop, when we were still hopping over tree roots instead of barely lifting our feet?
It’s unlikely that Traci will be able to join me in next Sunday’s triathlon due to kid commitments, but she’s gamely been training as if she might. She craves the added variety of swimming and biking — along with appreciating the way it reduces the impact on her chronically sore joints.
I love having these new adventures, though I’ve missed cutting back on our longer runs. Still, based on our most recent trail run, I’d have to say cross training is only improving our endurance.
However humiliating this triathlon turns out to be, getting my butt into the pool and onto a bike seems to have been a good move.