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Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Lesson In Trails

Apparently, Austin has trail running.

I did not know this. I knew of exactly two trails that exist in the city. One circles the lake, and the other quickly turns into rocks and ledges. Every Sunday, a friend and I go out to enjoy the former. The one time I went to the latter, I got insanely lost and First Dog and I wandered aimlessly for about seven miles. Neither satisfies the description that I have in my mind of trail running, which involves mountains, lakes, and at least a 40% chance of seeing a bear.

So, when I received the Runner's World Trail Running issue, I wasn't overly anxious to get it open. Still, I figured I'd thumb through and see if there was anything worth reading. After a couple pages, I decided to do my usual reading of Runner's World, which meant page-by-page, each article. I'm halfway through.

This is where I learned about Capt'n Karl's Night Time Trail Running series, with 50K, 30K, and 10K races, all of which happen on warm summer nights. Cutoff time for finishing is 7:00 a.m., and I imagine that's not too much of an exaggeration. The competitor in me knows that one day I'm going to try one of these races. The much quieter sane person in there knows it won't be this year. Still, now I know where to go looking for some interesting terrain and challenging courses. After Sunburst, that is.

See, with just over four weeks until my next marathon, it would be completely insane to make a major change in my training, especially to something more difficult. Not only would the ground itself be more dangerous, but simply the act of driving 40 minutes outside of town for a run would change my rhythm. No, it's better to keep doing what's been working.

Then again...

Turning the page, I came across another article about how to complete a full-body workout. The idea here is that running uses and tones certain muscles and ignores others. By working out those muscles that have gone untended, you can strengthen joints and avoid injury, but doing this requires additional workouts and movements. We're talking Crossfit-type stuff here.

It made sense, and as I need to avoid injury in the next few weeks, I decided to give it a try. What better day to do it than speed day? It was hard, and I'm already sore, but wow, what a workout.

The basic structure involved four sections, each beginning with ten minutes of running, in which I ran a little under 1.5 miles. Section One had squats and lunges with added weight, as well as plyo-pushups, where one hand is up and one down, alternating each rep. After ten more minutes on the road, Section Two was the hardest. This had burpees (the workout from hell), something called a poor man's curl, which involved lifting the body up using hamstring muscles only, and then a plank position. I was supposed to do side planks, too, but the concrete hurt my forearms. I'll remember a towel next time.

Ten more minutes on the road brought me back for box jumps, dips and squat jerks with a relatively light exercise ball. The workout ordered that this be done with a large rock. I guess you use what you can on the trail. Finally, after ten more grueling minutes in the sun, I was back for the finale. Ten squats, ten alternating lunges, ten jumping lunges and five squat jumps.

That's all. Just a little extra fun for a Thursday morning. And I learned that trail running may still have a lot to teach me.

If it doesn't kill me first.

Thursday's workout (totals):
81 degrees, sunny
40 minutes of running (5.84 miles)
20 plyo-pushups
30 lunges
26 squats
20 burpees
30 DMCs
2x:30 Planks
20 box jumps
30 dips
24 squat jerks
10 jumping lunges
5 squat jumps

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