Proper Trail Running

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What exactly IS proper trail running??? This is a question I have been pondering ever since I set foot on the Al Buehler trail Monday evening around 6:45. It was only my second time on the trail and my first time alone. Cue sketchy “woman alone in woods” music, right? Wrong! Ok, so I definitely had the wrong impression of the Al Buehler trail… first of all, it’s not just your average trail through the woods in Durham. Nah, it’s a cross country trail that is perfectly safe for a single gal to run/walk/jog alone! Secondly, it’s both challenging and rewarding! I felt like woah Mo Farah after finishing the trail.

With it being my first time as a solo runner/walker (because let’s face it- I couldn’t run the whole time… I maybe ran 3/4 of the way) on the trail, I felt kind of clueless about a few things…

#1 – WHICH WAY IS THE “RIGHT” DIRECTION TO RUN THE TRAIL?

I realize this is the dumbest question ever, but 90% of the people I passed on the trail were coming towards me, not going in the same direction as me. I had no idea if there was a “correct” direction. Shoot, I had no idea the direction I chose had the most hilly areas. Good lands, my thighs were burning! When I left my car in the parking lot (that I thankfully got a spot in thanks to a cute dude leaving) I started walking to the gravel, unknowing of which way I was supposed to go. I’m a novice cross country runner, what can I say? 🙂  My goal is to switch up the direction each week!

#2 – DO YOU MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH PEOPLE OR AWKWARDLY LOOK DOWN/AWAY?

Another dumb question, yes, but this seriously bothered me. It’s a habit for me to look people in the eyes and smile as I walk by them at work, in a restaurant, at the store, etc. and I found myself smiling at the people I passed on the trail, regardless of if they were looking back or not. Let me rephrase that- I found myself smiling at the people I passed on the trail, when I was walking; when I was busy running, it was all I could do to focus ahead and make sure I didn’t trip or something stupid. I did smile and say “hi!” to all the people with dogs on the trail though… the dogs were so cute! Do I look away or look at people?

#3 – SHOULD I SAY, “ON THE LEFT!” AS I PASS?

I crack myself up sometimes. I was so tempted to be that runner on Monday night, and I was tempted to try this when I would run past people. Especially when people were running towards me, I was stuck behind a group of women gabbing about 50 Shades of Grey, and I was trying to squeeze in between said people. Maybe if I had hollered “on the left!” they would have gotten out of my way? Ok, so I don’t actually know what they were talking about, but they were loud and all up in my way. And I wouldn’t have hollered in the woods anyways. It sounds very redneck. The word hollered makes me laugh. (I dare you to casually throw it into an everyday conversation.)

#4- WHAT DO I DO WITH MY CAR KEY?!

I don’t think guys have the same problem as girls. Guys always conveniently have pockets where they can shove things, such as tater tots. (Napoleon Dynamite reference. I am such a nerd.) My running shorts, however, have no pockets, not even a little hidden one in the lining. They’re $9 from TJ Maxx  so that might be why…  Anyways, I removed my single car key from my gigantic keychain and had no idea where I was going to put it to ensure that I could get back in my car after the death march run. Shove it in my shoe? Leave my back door unlocked? Dig a hole to bury it in? No, I did what any girl would do- put it into my bra. Sorry, did I just make that awkward? Oops. But yes, I put my car key into my shirt. For the record, putting it in wasn’t the awkward part, getting my key out was. Especially since I was dripping in sweat. Ew. Don’t worry, I have since Clorox wiped my key (and my phone) down. Which brings me to my next question-

#5 – DO I LOOK LIKE A NERD RUNNING WITH MY PHONE?

I run with my phone not for safety reasons, but for training reasons. I have a handy dandy app Map My Run that acts as my GPS, keeping track of my speed, distance, calories, etc. But it does get awkward carrying it in my sweaty hands as I try to survive a run in Durham in the summer. And I may or may not have used it to snap a few pictures during my intense break run. Sweaty hands + running + phone = no bueno. I came close to dropping it a few times, not even kidding. I felt like a nerd because I wasn’t listening to music, merely carrying my smart phone as an accessory. I don’t look like a nerd carrying it though, right??? (I passed a woman who was talking on her phone, very loudly I might add, about a man she had been on a date with and she was waiting to hear back from him. It had been three days and she was worried. That’s all I gathered as I sped past her at my invincible running pace 😉 )

the long and winding trail
(that really wasn’t all that winding, I just wanted an excuse to semi-quote a Beatles song)

#6- IS IT OK TO TALK TO PEOPLE?

I didn’t talk to anyone on the trail, besides the occasional “hi” to the dog-walkers, but what if I had wanted to… would that be acceptable? Not that I would have had the breath or energy to strike up a casual conversation with a stranger, but what if…? A running trail is the perfect place to make new friends, right? 🙂

#7- IT’S OK TO MAKE FACES, RIGHT?

I should never be granted permission to make faces because y’all, I can make some ugly crazy ones. Not that anyone “gave me permission” nor did I need permission per se, but I may have made some faces at people on the trail. Like when I ran past the older woman who looked like she might die at any moment, I kind of made a face that could be interpreted as, “grandma, you should be home knitting.”  Then the girl who was probably my age ,who kind of looked me up and down with a disapproving glare as she approached (in her defense, I was talking a walking break and trying to catch my breath and wipe the sweat from my eyes) I rolled my eyes and made an, “I don’t care what you think Miss Priss” face after she passed. And then there were the two guys, one on a bike and one running alongside him, who I made a desperate “wait, can I please have a ride?!” face at their backs as they passed me. To the owner of a little chihuahua, there was my, “you are such a wimpy dog” face. (sorry to all you chihuahua owners!) When I was attempting to run up the hill, I’m pretty sure I was wearing my, “oh my gosh I’m going to die” face. And lastly, the fine-looking young, buff man who was running towards me… I made a “dangggg, who are you?” face after he passed. Yeah, I make a lot of faces and I’m glad nobody saw them because they might have thought I was crazy.

Needless to say, I have quite a few questions that need answers. 

Are there proper trail running attires, attitudes, actions? Where do you run? Have you ever done any of the above things?

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3 responses »

  1. Haha! Good blog! I was chuffed the other day because when I was running there was a runner on the opposite side of the road and we nodded at each other. (He nodded first! I must look like I know what I’m doing!)

    As for your key, undo one of your laces from one hole, thread key on, thread lace through hole, tie shoelace. Or do the same, but on the laces on your shorts.

    I think we should all get together and come up with a way of letting people know you’re coming up behind them without worrying/shouting at them. Does ‘on the left’ mean for them to move to the left, or that you’re going to the left? I normally just get quite close, with the smell of sweat and heavy breathing, they move quick enough.

    As for your phone, you can buy an arm band pocket thing that works well. Mine even has a hole in for headphones! I think it cost about £3.00

    Hope this helps!

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