Trail running is a completely different sport than road running. Your average runner that will run a few 5k races per year or maybe even bump up to a 10K or Half Marathon love to find flat courses so they can run fast and PR. Trail runners must accept the fact that no matter how much you train finishing is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed are those hills the road runners are trying to avoid.I actually enjoy trail running quite a bit more than I do road running. I like being out in nature and just enjoying the scenery. I like the fact that the terrain is constantly changing and you must concentrate on foot placement the entire time. On a 10+ mile road run I can eventually get bored. I don’t see that being the case with trail runs.
Road running for me is important. Running isn’t just an activity that I do for enjoyment. I need to run to maintain my health at the level that I want. Running makes me a healthier person and that makes me a happier person. I can’t head out to the trails for a 10 mile run before work after getting the kids on the bus. I can go out for a 5 miles run around the subdivision though. I do enjoy road runs, but just not at the same level as trail runs.
My very first trail run was at Raven Run not long after I started training this spring. I have always enjoyed hiking, but had never actually gone for a trail run. I was at Raven Run by myself one Saturday morning for a run not knowing what to expect. Not only had I never been on a trail run, I had never been to Raven Run. I saw signs marking their 10K Run The Raven course and decided that’s what I would do. As I said this was at the beginning of my training and I was not ready for that run. I ran the downhills and flats and walked up every hill. If I had been on the road I would have been mad at myself for walking that much, but I enjoyed that run more than probably any other run I have done. I definitely didn’t set any records but that isn’t usually the point of trail runs. The point is to finish and I did.
If you have only ran on pavement I encourage you to make the trip to Raven Run. It is mapped well and it will be really hard to get completely lost. If you love it as much as I did then you can head over to Red River Gorge and start exploring. Just remember not to judge your run against any of your road runs because as I said at the beginning…it really is a different sport.