Trail Tip: Patience=Success

Over the past several weeks, enjoying this new world of trail running, I began to search for why so many trail runners were not in their 20’s, but instead were in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s when it came to age. As one runner put it when I inquired about it, the reality is that this kind of running requires patience. Young runners don’t have that patience yet, so they tend to stay away from this form of sport. They are all about their splits, staying within time, striding out, and speeding down the asphalt. There is nothing wrong with that concept for many, but for some we need a different form of motivation.

Last Saturday I laced up for a fun run with a few runners from our local running team; Team Run816. The route was just a chat trail that laced through the south end of the city. Some would do two miles, some four, and some more. No race, no purpose, just running. I had decided earlier in the day that I would log 4 miles and enjoy my Saturday. A week removed from my first trail race adventure had me thirsty for more, but also a small voice in the back of my head telling me that I was tired. I had logged 16 miles for the week, had some cramping issues on Thursday, and even I could express that I was tired.


At the turnaround of my four mile course I noticed that one of the faster runners, a running coach, a trail runner, an ultra runner was quickly going to cross paths with me at the turnaround*. Personally, I became extremely scared. Nothing is more terrifying then being tired, running heavy, and seeing a running coach fly up behind you. I embraced for the worst as I trucked along.

When she caught up, the first words caught me off-guard:

Are you alright? Let’s stop and walk this section.

Years of experience probably led her to already understand and see that I was wornTRAIL TIP 9 out and not moving very fluid. We walked for about ten minutes and then picked up the pace again. Through this process she talked the entire time (I’m still trying to figure out how people talk and run at the same time, my ‘yes’ usually comes out as a *gasp*) about trail running, training, and patience.

She told me that I had been trying to stack too much on after my first trail race, and I needed to lighten the load a bit. She suggested running with my wife, spending time on my feet, but not pushing myself to new levels the week after a race.

One of the biggest problems in the trail running community is seeing younger people come up through the ranks, fly through the courses, and then after about three years they are worn out, burned out, and done with trail running. It is a serious risk that exists for people who are not patient with their training, and potentially even more importantly their overall recovery. Trail running requires an insane amount of patience. You are building your body, slowly and safely, to take on extreme mileage. Think about all the training a road runner has to do to prepare for a half-marathon; now calculate that into mileages beyond a marathon on an unstable surface.

When I have someone finish a 100 mile race, the next day they are required to take a 30 minute walk. It keeps them loose, but doesn’t overdue it in light of what they have just accomplished.

In my case; I’m brand new to trail running. I had my first race, and it was a brutal experience. The temptation is to hop right back out and keep going, but when we are patient we allow that fire of desire to burn and smolder; making each trip out that much more enjoyable.

Upon learning all of this on a two mile trip back to our local coffee shop, I made some adjustments this week. My wife and I went out of town for our anniversary, and I did not run a single one of those days.

Waiting makes the experience that much more enjoyable.


*She’s also the owner of a new fitness studio in Kansas City

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