Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trails + Concrete = Sore Legs

I never even imagined this would happen, but transitioning from a trail run to running on concrete is a bad combination. Good for mileage, bad on legs. This was another lesson learned.

So I had the pleasure of running the hills of Santa Theresa yesterday. We had been expecting rain and it hadn't come by the time I got off work, so I took off to get my shoes and get some good running in before the rain came, 'cause I knew that we were expecting quite a bit more rain the rest of the week and I would be confined to treadmill running then.

Running along the mountain you continually come across imprints on the road. The most common is horseshoe indentations, but there were a ton of deer, turkey and bobcat prints everywhere. It was fun being able to see all the different wildlife when you are so close to such a major city. I am sure there were fox and coyote paw prints as well, but I wouldn't have known how to identify them (I've seen some of the coyotes roaming those hills and they are huge; as well I was on a run last week and sat there and watched a fox on the ridge about 100 yards away).

You follow single track trails at first and then jump on to fire roads that dip and dive under and into a dark and shady undergrowth with huge trees and rocks, eventually continuing your climb. And the climb is a huge climb, not so much in feet, but in how steep the road goes up. After half way through the run you peak the hill and all of San Jose is below you, one of the few trail areas that San Jose is so close. I pounded down those steep and fast hills as dusk came on and the lights of San Jose began making the run surreal. Eventually I merged back on to the concrete road and to my brother's house, which was about 5.3 miles of trail running, but he hadn't gotten home yet so I kept running then came back, he wasn't home again so I kept repeating this, clocking in 9.21 miles total.

This was the lesson learned, one that I would have never thought about. After running a little over 5 miles on the steep uphills and downhills I didn't really feel tired. It wasn't until I added the running on pavement that it felt my legs were taking a beating. Run trails and stop, I feel fine. Run all paved roads and stop and I feel fine. I never even thought that doing the two on the same run proves a bad combination, that was until my legs started throbbing and feeling uncomfortable.

Has anyone else noticed this combination and how it feels? Running half a long run on the softness of trails to going straight to the pounding on pavement? Interesting, something I will have to remember the next time I run.

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