What I learned this year about trail running/running – Part 1


I know it is not December and there is still many miles to cover before year end but I thought I would try to put down some thoughts on what I have learned this year from running both while I ran and also when I couldn’t run.

This year, with a great deal of help from many people, I managed to get this venture (Toronto True Running) up and ……..running. We ran two trail running groups through May and June and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Many of the people who came out are now running friends and from all the feedback I received, everyone enjoyed the experience and many would love to sign up again. In order to get this idea to fruition, I had to take so many many years of trail running/running and boil them down to practical lessons. Just pointing to the woods and cryptically stating ” Run free and run by feel” would not do nor is that what running is about. So I went out and broke trail running down. I slowed myself down to understand how to run. What was I doing when I ran through the trails? Was what I was doing even successful and worthwhile teaching? You can do well and still be doing it wrong. Downhills, uphills, pace, trail conditions, trail safety, etiquette, form, when it’s working, when it is not working, how do runners breakdown on trails, what is the difference between trails and pavement, what does running on trails do for you that other running doesn’t, what are the risks, footwork (which on pavement seems so natural), racing on trails, why we fall on trails etc. These and so many other questions I needed to answer before I could even begin. So I broke down what I did, step by step. I watched other people run trails and noted what they were doing. I tried things that didn’t seem natural to me and asked myself a lot of questions about how I run and whether what I do is something I think others should do. So after a great deal of practical work and making running teachable, I set out to see if what I thought was sensible was indeed sensible. I read everything I could find on trail running, watched videos of other runners and talked to other trail runners whom I considered knowledgeable.The internet is vast and all-knowing, a place where everything is Wikitrue, but there wasn’t as much out there as I thought. Sure, most of the topics I listed above were covered in some way but I found only bits and pieces of what I sought. Some of the ideas I have about running hills were most definitely confirmed as sound running theology. I found a lot on the Zen of running trails – the peace and quiet, the solitude, the connection with nature and so on. That’s part of why I run on the trails but I wasn’t doing groups to teach trail running mindfulness. That’s certainly part of it and running can be a magical place where you come back from a run in the woods with much more than you took in with you or much less, depending on how you look at it. So after a great deal of planning and research, I had a plan and the wonderful Don trails on which to coach. Now I had to hope there might be some folks who wanted to find another way to enjoy running.

Ok, now I know why I started this in November. When I think about what I learned from running this year, I have learned firstly that I will need more than one blog post to say all I want to say on the topic.

Cheers for now