On Trail Running

It's no secret that I love trail running. If I could run trails exclusively, I'd be a happy girl. After my excitement about Western States crewing, I made a point to drive to parks after work to run more trails during the week. I started doing more long runs on trail, climbing again, and feeling like I was finally getting some hill-climbing fitness back after the hip flexor injury cut me off from trails last January and caused me to drop my 50K plans for June.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that trail running likes me back. Aside from having my share of falls - which I think could improve with more focus and picking my feet up when I'm tired - my hip flexor is acting up again. My gorgeous PG&E to Black Mountain climb of a long run a couple of weeks ago resulted in constant hip tightness and mild pain that just isn't going away even with all of my PT exercises, foam rolling, and stretches. I can't help but worry about going back to that injury place that took so long to get through - if I can even be considered to be 'through' it yet.

I love getting 'lost' in the woods. But not really lost.

Am I worrying too much? Do I still run trail and just see how it goes? Is it just leftover mild pain that isn't an issue? I haven't returned to the doctor because I don't think I'm at that point yet. That said, the fact that I can run road with much less hip aggravation makes me think I should play it safe at least until the NYC Marathon. That would mean no birthday Steven's Creek Striders 30K and many, many long runs on road.

I mean, who doesn't want a view like this on every run?

I so badly want to be this trail ultra runner who can handle crazy climbs and run at least 50Ks. I want the challenge, the views, and the solitude that comes with trail running. I long to sign up for another 50K and to run only trails to train for it. I really envy everyone out there who is doing these things, and I love following your stories.

What's a girl to do?


  1. I feel your frustration!! Going a little overboard on trail runs in May is what sent me into my hip/low back injury whirlwind, from which I'm just now recovering. I've only done short runs (less than 5 miles) on trails, with very little climbing. On more strenuous trails, I've limited myself to power hiking. I guess doing MAF training helps in this regard -- I have to keep my HR low, which means walking most hills. I think (hope!!) it's just a matter of time and that by slowly adding a bit of distance and climbing week by week, I'll eventually get back to running longer on trails.

    Hope this is just a little blip in your running life and that you get to return to trails soon!

    1. Eek, I didn't realize that's how you were injured earlier this year. I think I'll just need to stick to shorter trail runs but that's ok - at least I can still run. Thanks for the thoughts - and sad I won't see you on the trail meet up this weekend. I'm banning myself because if I go....I'll do the long run and I shouldn't.

    2. Are you sure you don't want to come hiking? Me, MILF runner, and Layla will be hiking while the others run. It'll be fun and a really good workout still!

  2. As a runner who took to the trails in part to avoid further injury from road running, I am surprised to hear that trail running can cause injury too! Hopefully it is something that won't keep you away from trails 100%, that would be very sad :(

    1. I always though the same thing - it should be better to run on dirt, right?! But I suppose the extended climbing can be tough on the body too, perhaps because it was in combo with road running. And I don't think it'll be 100%, just realizing I might not be pushing the trail distances to 50K just yet. Thanks for the thoughts!

  3. Hmmm, if by chance the trail running is exacerbating your injury, I wouldn't risk the A goal of NYCM. I'd stick the majority of training runs on pavement. Maybe short flatter trail runs here and there just to get the trail fix? It's strange that trail running would cause more issues than road, but each runner is different. Once NYCM is over hit the trails again and rebuild trail strength and see if the pain increases again with it. Hopefully it won't. Keep up the cross training, foam rolling, PT exercises etc. I really hope it works out for you.


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