I have raced over 35 half marathons plus a bunch of shorter distances during the past 3 years. They have all been wonderful in their own way. This past weekend though, I was privy to an amazing 4 day trail running camp that has left such an impression on me that I can barely concentrate on anything else.
I am a proud member of Team RWB OC (Orange County, CA). Team RWB is such an amazing Veteran support group. If you are interested in supporting your local Veterans as well as the community you live in through physical and social activities, please go to teamrwb.org and check them out. This is a group, a family really, like no other.
Through Team RWB, I was given the opportunity to attend the Team RWB Pacific Regional 4 day Trail Running Leadership Camp put on by Team RWB Phoenix, AZ Chapter.
Besides competing in the Xterra Crystal Cove 10K Trail Race at the beginning of this year, I had really not done any intense trail running before.
I learned a lot about a lot of things.
First of all, I learned a lot more about Team RWB which just makes me more proud and excited to be a part of the RWB family. I have been a member for only 1 year and am still learning the ways in which Team RWB changes lives.
I learned a lot about leadership, community, and people coming together to support each other through everything and anything. The connections made over this weekend extend well beyond the actual activity of running the trails together.
Being a trail running camp, I did indeed, learn a lot about trail running which is what I am sharing with you today.
Follow the links and join the fun!
The First 5 Things I Learned About Trail Running
OUR BODIES ARE CAPABLE OF SO MUCH MORE
It’s true what they say: Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Prior to showing up at camp, I had been dealing with some sort of leg pain for about a month and a half. I wasn’t sure what the problem was but I was certain that I would crash and burn up in those hills. Funny thing is, once I got going, my body just seemed to kick into gear. I was surrounded by the most motivational bunch of runners. We had running mentors that were champions in the field of 100 mile endurance races as well as average runners and every level in between. Out there, in the hills, it wasn’t so much the speed or strength (although that certainly helps) it was more about the heart. Being motivated by the runners ahead of me and wanting to motivate anyone behind me just brought a whole new level to this sport.
SPENDING TIME IN NATURE IS SUCH A FREEING AND PEACEFUL EXPERIENCE
While I do enjoy beautiful nearby beach runs and local park runs quite often, running through the mountains is a completely different experience. There are no sounds, I mean really….no sounds other than wind or an encouraging comment from a teammate. You can just enjoy the sounds of nature when you’re out there. It was easy for me to pay attention to the sounds of my breathing. This was helpful for me because I was trying different things to help me fight the exhaustion I was feeling.
LEARNING TO BREATH MORE EFFICIENTLY IS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR
From the moment I hit the trails, I was feeling like I just couldn’t catch my breath. It was so easy for me to blame it on the altitude because this labored breathing was new to me. When I race, I do exhaust myself, but this just felt so different. One of our course guides, taught me the technique of breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth to help me breath more efficiently. This gave me something to concentrate on and also made me quit acting like it was beyond my control and that I just needed to walk. Again, these guides were the best!
PLAN AHEAD FOR WATER AND FUELING
Even at the beach or parks that I normally run through, there are water fountains often enough that I have never been completely dry. This is not the case in the mountains. I did not plan properly and luckily was able to rely on our course support. I made the mistake of looking at the run by the mileage. I did not take into consideration that a 6 mile run is not a 1 hour run. For instance, our 11 mile run took me 4 hours to complete. Much of the “run” is actually a “hike”. When climbing straight up or straight down, the only safe way is to hike. Loose rocks at that kind of incline need to be taken with caution, at least at my beginner level. I was feeling so worn out 1/2 way through this 11 miler that the Gu I took was like a real life saver. Next time I hit this kind of terrain, I will be sporting a hydration pack for sure!
PAYING ATTENTION TO TRAIL MARKERS IS CRUCIAL
Out there on these trails, anytime I was leading a small group of runners, I got so confused as to which way to turn. It’s not an obvious choice and I would imagine it’d take quite a while to get to know a trail. I plan to never go out on my own at least not on these types of trails. There are so many ways to get lost. The trail was marked the entire way, and I was never alone, but I saw firsthand how very easily one could get very lost especially while enjoying the beauty of nature that surrounds you.
I am very excited to have come away from this camp with so much information. The 5 items mentioned above were just a bit of what the presenters shared with us. I could probably dedicate an entire post to each and every one of the amazing people that mentored us during this weekend, and at some point, I am sure that I will. I am grateful to Team RWB and everyone that made the camp possible. I am excited to get even more involved with Team RWB and also into the trail running world.