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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trail Running 101 again (actually part 2)

Now for the “heart ware”. Trail running is not like road running. Generally, it takes about 20% more effort to run on trail than on the road so if you are wondering why you are not able to maintain your sub-60mins pace for a 10km, fret not. It is the terrain. Not you.

That said, here are some stuffs (from own experiences, friends, and glean from the net) on running trails.

Target ahead. Watch where you are going. Not left or right. The scenery may be beautiful but if you are not watching where you are going, you may end up eating mud! Look at the ground 3 to 5 feet ahead of you. Do not look down! Scan the surfaces, watch out for that root, rock or mud which may cause you to trip, fly or slip. What your eyes see, your brain will register and move your legs accordingly. That is unless you are so fatigued that the brain cannot process the signal first enough in which case

Take Five. If you are tired, slow down and walk. Stop if necessary. Drink your water. Eat something light. Best time now to enjoy the beautiful view of the reservoir or smell the flower. There is no shame in walking during a trail run.

Attention. Most trails are narrow. Give way to faster runners, mountain bikers and the occasional wild boars. Instead of trying to outrun them, if the path is too narrow, stop and wait for them to pass otherwise be prepared for a feast of expletives.  Keep to the left unless there is a ravine there.

Enemy Ahead. Be alert for danger. Watch out for overhanging branches. Look out for wasp or hornet’s nest. You don’t want to run smack into one. Also, there are snakes, scorpions and all sort of wild creatures in the forest. The forest belongs to them. Avoid them if possible (detour, stop until it go away). Try not to crush any insects, maybe except the mozzies). Another creature to avoid is the Mountain Biker. Most trails in the Bukit Timah areas are actually mountain bike trails which mean they get right of way. Stand to one side and let them pass if one is approaching. At their speed, sometime it is not possible for them to brake. You won’t want to get run down by a bicycle going at 50km per hour!

Take Cover. If you need to go, you need to go. Some runners are prone to runners’ trots. There is no toilet in the forest. Actually the whole place is a giant toilet! Just make sure that whatever business you need to do, watch before you squat down. You don’t want to drop a dump on a spitting cobra! Also make sure you are well camouflage. You also don’t want the dirty old man going fishing or the mountain bikers looking at you while you are doing your business. Best is to get a friend to stand guard for you. Oh and in this region, there is this belief that nature is infested by spirits so it is common for the superstitious to say a silent prayer to the spirits to ask them to ‘move away’ and for forgiveness in case you pee on them.

Keep in line. Stay on well trodden and clear paths or trails. Do not attempt to bash through vegetation. You never know what is underneath or above. Beside this is trail running not trekking we talking here!

Silence is golden. Keep quiet. Listen to the sound of nature. Not your MP3. Don’t bring your MP3 player for a run in the trails. You want to listen to the sound of the crickets, the frogs and oncoming cyclists. And don’t sing. Don’t scare away all the birds and creatures with your singing.

Leave Nothing. Do not leave used condom sorry gel packing, food stuff behind. If you must leave anything, leave only your footprints or if you had crap, well that of course.

Take Nothing. Do not take anything away. Trust me, the pretty flower you see won’t last inside your hydration bag. Or that nice little bird egg will be a soft boiled egg inside your bag. If you must take anything away, take only memories and pictures.

Run Smart. Ok I am not an expert in this so this one I will leave it to the experts:
    - Trail Running 101 (the real thing)

    Run Well Run Smart. Never Stop Exploring!

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