My last few Saturday long runs have been mentally challenging–miserable weather, long stretches of road with no end in sight, oh and miserable weather. But today’s run was more physically challenging because about half of my 12 miles involved uneven gravel trail. I know many people prefer the lower-impact of trails over concrete sidewalks, but for one thing, I tend to get rocks in my shoes. And two, I find that to get sufficient traction on the trail, my body has to work harder, and therefore tires more quickly. That’s what happened today.
I like this route pretty well, from a mental standpoint. It has five or six distinct segments, which breaks the distance up into smaller pieces in my head. The tradeoff, though, is that for a 12-mile run, the middle six miles happen on the gravel trail. I’d hoped to test out my ability to maintain my race pace on this run, but on the gravel, I just couldn’t do it.
Regardless, it was a pretty day, albeit a lot colder than I had anticipated. I warmed up quickly though, and I got to the Brushy Creek Dam just as the steam that had been rising from the lake floated gently away, leaving a perfect glassy surface behind.
I passed a few familiar faces on the out-and-back as I plodded along ever-so-slowly, and my fifth Stuff You Should Know podcast ended just as I hit the alley behind Rogue. I finished much more slowly than I wanted, and my legs and hips felt really sore, but I didn’t dwell on it because I had plans to meet friends for lunch.
Last night, knowing I had a long morning in front of me, I’d posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to meet for Mexican food after my run. I ended up making plans with a couple of long-time friends (we go back to 7th grade) to meet at El Arroyo. This is pretty much my favorite restaurant on the planet, so thoughts of Enchiladas Del Mar motivated me to finish my run and get home–I didn’t even stop at the Starbucks a few doors down from Rogue. And that’s saying something.
Good company, hot coffee, those enchiladas, and now a fire in the fireplace pretty much nailed my recovery.
Do you prefer running on trails or more stable surfaces like concrete or asphalt?
How the hell do you keep from getting rocks in your shoes?
What’s your favorite post-run recovery food? Activity?