Pandemic Trail Running

Running through a pandemic has been the one remaining sliver of sanity in life, yet holds bits and pieces of the many unknowns. Spring is canceled, summer is canceled and there are some people who are holding onto hope for fall. For me, it’s the moment when I finally give in, throw my hands up in the air and accept that 2020 is a complete bust is when I get a email notification from a fall race stating they’re still going on as planned.

I know the reality of that is extremely slim. Microscopic. I’m not holding my breath.

It feels maddening that events are communicating this way too.

The reality is that large crowds of people can’t gather. Large marathons and triathlons bring large crowds together. Think about a packet pick-up situation, even if there are no expo booths, there is a good spread of volunteers to assist with finding your bib, t-shirt, and answer questions. Then race morning, think of the long line to use the porta-potties, waiting in the start corral, the aid stations, the crowds cheering, the finish line volunteers….it’s one giant, crowd parade from start to finish. All the hope in the world can’t change the reality of this.

While the reality might sound like a downer, it’s a reminder that endurance sport is an enabler of adaptability. Triathlon has no doubt given me is the ability to adapt. It’s not always pretty, I often stomp my feet and have a little tantrum when I need to shift into a new mindset, but I eventually find my way. Today I found my way on a trail run.

I woke up, it was cloudy and gloomy for the millionth* day in a row and my original plan was a long bike ride. The hourly weather forecast showed potential rain and annoying wind. Boo to those conditions for biking, and meh for running. To add some vibrancy into my run I decided to visit a trail and enjoy the lush greenery and sing-song’ing birds. The spring flowering trees were a lovely bonus.


Two miles in my legs were quite confused and feeling weak. When I hit four miles I said out loud to a chipmunk, “That was only four miles?!!”

I continued on, charging up little hills if I could, walking them if I needed to. As I navigated the rocks and roots I remembered last spring when I solely did trail running in April in May in preparation for High Cliff 70.3. I was so strong on trails! I pace PR’ed the run of High Cliff 70.3 with the run course on trails. After that race when I transitioned to road running that strength carried over there, and possibly to even my biking.

While I’m rambling about my past strength and pace, it’s important to note that running on trails is usually not about pace. It’s about being out there and enjoying nature, even the turkey that chased me away. Letting go of pace and running free in the woods is good for the brain, and it will make me stronger in quiet.

Running on a mixed terrain of dirt, mud, and hills, the body works a wider range of muscle groups, a great benefit of trail running. It’s also known to reduce risk of injury, lessen anxiety and negativity.

I really need to do more trail running.

I say this after every trail run. But this time I’m going to follow through! Seriously, somebody call me out if I don’t post about a trail run within the next two weeks.

Though I don’t have any races to train specifically for, I will still be enjoying swimming, biking and running,. My goal is to continue to challenge myself to find more strength in each of those disciplines.


One comment

  1. Yay for building run strength on the trails!! I love trail running, but haven’t done it for months…I honestly don’t know when I last ran on the dirt trails. I definitely need to do this again SOON! Hold my feet to the fire on this as well.


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