Is there such a thing as ‘trail feet’?

“How do you guys keep from tripping over all those tree roots?” asked a man hiking with his kids as Traci and I ran by them Saturday on Trail 5 at Ouabache State Park.

Good question. Though we jokingly told them they’d probably find us lying on the ground somewhere down trail, covered in mud, we got through our 12-mile run without a fall. Though we used to average at least one spill every 5 miles or so, now we usually manage to skim over roots and rocks with just a brief wobble before regaining our balance.

“I wonder what you call that, when your foot hits a root and just kind of ‘skates’ over it,” I asked. “It’s almost like we’re starting to develop ‘trail feet’ or something.”

One thing that’s helped is that we’ve definitely been lifting our feet more than we do on pavement, especially when we’re going through ankle-high leaves in places. I suppose our ankles our getting stronger; that has to help. It also feels like we’re building a stronger connection between our brains and our feet, just by focusing on them so much. How that works, I can’t begin to say. But it feels real.

Naturally we both felt compelled to qualify my “trail feet” observation with several qualifiers, to avoid jinxing our good luck. We’re going to fall again, probably sooner rather than later. But for now, it’s much more fun to say “Nice recovery!” rather than “Are you OK?”

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