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trail running question

roadie gal2010-05-02 01:57:48 +0000 #1
Whenever I run on the roads I'm able to figure out exactly how far I ran. When I run on trails I'm usually on my local equestrian center trail system. It's a bunch of intertwined trails. Somehow I always end up on one that I've never been on before.

My question is: When you run on trails do you try to figure out your mileage or do you just go for time? If you try to estimate mileage, how do you do it? I know that I'm running slower on the trails than the road because I'm trying not to kill myself on rocks, loose sand, etc. but I have no idea how much slower I am.
rocknrollgirl2010-05-02 02:11:45 +0000 #2
Some of the places that we run, are the same places that we mt bike, so I have it clocked on my bike computer already.

If we are running someplace new, and I do not know the distance, I run for time. I typically run about a minute or so slower on the trails depending on the terrain. So I just guess from there.
yellow2010-05-02 02:31:27 +0000 #3
For my shorter runs (4-6 miles), I rely on my Garmin Forerunner to tell me the distance. I set the alarm to sound when I'm half way through and then I turn around.

For my longer runs I usually go for time, but sometimes (like today), I choose a route that has a "known" distance (such as in a mtn bike book or whatever) and run it. The one I did today was shorter than I thought it would be and took less time. I wanted to run for 3 hours and it only ended up being 2 hrs and 20 minutes. That's a whole lot less on the trail.

I don't compare to "road" times so I have no clue about pace. My pace depends on the trail, how much climbing, how hot it is, etc.

The great things about trail running are (1) it's not about your pace (2) you can walk the nasty uphills (sometimes you HAVE to) and (3) you reap a lot of benefit from the movement of your entire body, not just your feet hitting the pavement. Since I've started trail running my hips and ankles have gotten noticeably stronger. Not that road running is bad...I just can't do it anymore because it's just too painful (mostly my back). Trail running is a whole 'nother animal, as I've been learning this year. I can't imagine going back (I probably couldn't, actually).

Have fun and take it slow. It takes a while to retrain yourself to run on the dirt.
Jolt2010-05-02 02:34:08 +0000 #4
Trail running is great! The dirt is a nicer surface, the scenery is better and there's shade so it's not as hot. Plus it's fun to dodge the rocks/roots and zigzag around the curves. I did a trail run yesterday and a road run tonight, and I think even my form is better on the trail than the road; I didn't feel exactly graceful tonight as I ran down the steepest hill on my route! I just go by time rather than distance on trail runs--it's easier that way. I suppose I could sit down and figure out the distance for the section of the Midstate Trail that I often run on.
tattiefritter2010-05-02 03:27:45 +0000 #5
I either use Memory Map software for mapping my runs (particularly offroad)or one of the Google Map type route managers for both road and offroad (e.g Runstoppable, or FetchEveryone). The whole of the UK is very comprehensively and accurately mapped and I generally run on public rights of way which are generally marked on maps (in England anyway - not in Scotland where I'm originally from). The Memory Map mapping software allows me to measure my route and also includes ascent. I'm not sure if similar software is available for the US (Anquet is similar)?

For the google map type stuff I use the hybrid view if offroad and have generally been able to pick out where I've run or make an educated guess, its obviously quite difficult in woodland areas but a lot of the trails I will run on are on the open moors, some of these route managers also give ascent/descent as well.

I tried to use my Polar footpod to measure my routes offroad but gave up quickly on the idea as 1) it didn't cope particularly well with the constant change in stride length 2) I have separate trail shoes now and moving it is a pain 3) I'm not sure it was built for trundling through streams and mud! My OH has a hardly ever seen the light of day Garmin Forerunner that I am tempted to nick from him and use for trail running when my runs get longer again (currently short runs only due to useless left leg).

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