After running in my first ultra not to long ago, I was focused on recovery and how my body with my mangled knees would respond to the slow recovery that I had prescribed. A couple weeks went by and I started going out for test runs, seeing what was good and what needed attention. My knees and right hip were a mess, and I have no idea what the hell I did to my hip, phantoms.
I began running short easy runs, short mileage sort of reverting to my training back in February and it was working. My knees were slowly coming around and gradually the phantom pain in my hip faded. Bringing my mileage back up over the last month, still below the high point was difficult, filled with fear but I added a new element, climbing. I was going out on shorter runs with much more elevation gain to them, trying to get ready for my last local race of the summer.
In my pursuit of finding trails to run on with high elevation gain to them I found something else, running on trails that are more wild and further off the beaten path was like shooting up some crazy drug into my veins. I began driving further to get to these trails I would normally only back pack and it changed everything. The logistics change, the preparation changes, everything is different planning for a trail run instead of back packing, its easier yet harder. Now instead of planning and packing for days on the trail I’m planning and packing supplies for hours on the trail, higher intensity miles and skinning the pack to the ultimate essentials, namely a hydration vest with nutrition, more nutrition, liquid nutrition, a light shell, bear spray, gloves and that’s about it.
The adventure of running out on these less accessible “running” trails with minimal gear, the bare essentials is so amazing, running out there on trails I would normally be walking along with a 65 lb pack and now basically nothing light, fast and free, you can’t beat it! There is something about the vulnerability of it, running half naked with a super light hydration pack stuffed with just enough to keep you alive for a very limited time, it’s intoxicating.
I have just finished my last scheduled local race for the summer and will be taking a break from training until September when my next training block begins in preparation for an ultra down in Moab, Utah in November. So in this time I have before I start training again I get to play, going out and finding trails to run on and enjoy, not to build stamina for a race or lengthen my weekly mileage but just to run, starting over.
And again, starting over to rediscover what it was that I fell in love with about this sport in the first place, the rawness, beauty, ruggedness, alone majesty of it all. April feels so long ago, running through the high desert of New Mexico finding that love and swimming in the emotions of simple trail running with no purpose but to just run. Finding it, that passion now after the last couple of months of intense training has really given me a fresh outlook which I hope to explore very, very soon!