Well, I finally made it out for a trail run yesterday afternoon! At 23 1/2 weeks pregnant, this was in fact my first time back out on the trails in more than a year. With the Spartan Sprint only four and a half weeks away, I figured I’d better get out there and start my trail training sooner rather than later, and today’s mild and mostly sunny weather provided just the motivation I needed.
I decided to conquer my nemesis, the five-kilometre Lynn Loop at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, where I sprained my ankle (very badly) just over a year ago. I’ve been back once, just to walk the trail, but I haven’t actually run it since “the incident.”
I ran the first 1.8 kilometres — a mostly flat gravel and hard-packed trail — and then walked up the steep 300 metre leg that comprises the majority of the elevation gain. Even when I wasn’t pregnant, I had always found this section of the trail a bit too steep and treacherous to run, but I’d usually tackle it at a very brisk hiking pace, whereas today, I took it pretty slowly. For the next 1.9 kilometres, the trail is fairly technical, comprising of undulating muddy, rocky and root-y terrain, with a few sections still awash in spring glacier runoff. I ran most of it (at a very moderate pace), but did slow to a walk on a few occasions when I was a little bit tentative about rocks or other tripping/slipping hazards. The trail ends with a relatively steep, but smooth and gravelled, 1.2 kilometre downhill section, which I ran with no problems. I finished the entire five-kilometre loop in 48:53, which is anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes slower than my typical pre-pregnancy times.
I should mention that part of my ambivalence on the trail stemmed from the fact that this was the first time I had ever trail run in my Vibram FiveFingers shoes. I have hiked in them dozens of times, and I’ve worn them for running the asphalt sea wall more times than I can count, but until now I have never actually run on a mountain trail in anything other than trail runners. Overall, I think the experiment was successful. My soles are a bit tender right now from running on the gravel sections, but I know they will toughen up with continued training.
I decided that I want to run the Spartan Sprint in my FiveFingers TrekSports (if possible) because I feel that I pay much more attention to what I’m doing with my feet, and am thus less likely to roll or sprain an ankle. On the other hand, it’s a lot easier to bruise the soles of the feet or to stub (or break, as I’ve done before!) a toe, but traditional trail shoes seem to lead to a certain complacency on my part that results in a lot of little ankle rolls anytime I’m on uneven terrain.
All in all, I am pleased with my performance, and I think I should be able to cut four or five minutes off my time as I gain my confidence back and get used to trail running in my TrekSports.