Off the beaten path

I can honestly say that I haven’t truly enjoyed a run since my half marathon in April. And, in general, the task of running itself has become more and more monotonous since I crossed the finish line of my November marathon. I can’t put a finger on what specifically has hindered my running addiction. I still feel like no other cardio activity I attempt comes close to the challenge and exertion of a good long run so, in that respect, running is what I truly want to do. However, when I step onto the greenway nowadays I experience mental fatigue and restlessness like never before. The increases in temperature in the last few months seem to drain the energy straight from my legs. I am miserable. And nothing is more frustrating because I can’t help but think – Not 9 months ago I ran 26 miles so why the hell can’t I push through 8 today?

The other weekend I went home to visit my family in Virginia and finally found some relief from my running woes. My brother and I drove out to Observatory Hill and did a trail run about 3.5 miles long. Ross has been trail running a lot recently so he was my fearless leader because the closest I have come to running a trail in my life was cutting through the woods behind my high school during Cross Country practices 10 years ago.

The trail run kicked my butt needless to say – but in a way that was entirely different then my last several failed 8 mile runs. I was pleased to find myself winded and tired when we resurfaced from the woods of Observatory Hill after just 3.5 miles. Still, I was satisfied that new muscles were hurting and not once was I bored and counting down the miles to reach the end. Instead I was too preoccupied with picking my feet up high enough to dodge rocks and logs or whether the crappy rotting man-made foot bridge would collapse under my weight.

So it seems like it is about time I start adding some trail running into my exercise mix. Besides its ability to reignite my interest in running, I am reading more and more about the many other benefits that come from trail running. Lower impact on my achy joints, increased balance and stability, better concentration? Yes, please.

Who’s familiar with the back trails of Umstead Park and can point me in the right direction?!

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