Titles are such poor ways to convey truth. They’re the original click-bait. To be clear, before I tell you what we absolutely have to do, let me acknowledge that no one has to do anything. There are no purity tests here, and I reject outright any toughness standards or exclusionary bullshit.
Still, you should probably do these things. They’re good to do.
We didn’t run on Saturday because it was cold and raining heavily. The trails were a mess. Hypothermia is real (and not just the name of a failed Marvel character). But then the rain switched over to snow and that began to pile up in ways that hinted at magic for Sunday.
It was still pretty hard to get my lazy ass out the door. Luckily, Meghna loves to run in the show. She brings motivation where I bring skepticism, which is NOT the attribute you want to bring to the three things I will eventually tell you that you should consider doing.
As a useful detour on the way there, Caitlin sent me a photo of this t-shirt on Saturday, because she thinks it accurately expresses my curmudgeonliness (and she’s not wrong). I can tell you that I have run trails in California and enjoyed it. It’s a beautiful place with so many outstanding places to run. But it doesn’t have a lot in common with New England.
That brings me to the first thing we (don’t really) hve to do. We have to run technical. We had an ice age here (foreshadowing), and that means our soil is rocky AF, and sandy too, which means we also have shallow-rooted trees. If you run trails in New England, you more or less have to run technical or sequester yourself to a very small number of flat, smooth paths, likely landscaped and crowded with geriatric walking humans. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s just not my jam.
The second thing we must do is run on ice and snow. Unless you want to take the winter off (no judgement), then you need a strategy for and a willingness to run on substrates that are not ideal, relative to dirt. Snow can be really nice, actually, soft, grippy, pillowy. Ice is seldom good, even with good traction accessories, spikes or YakTrax or whatever it is you choose. The absolute worst is rutted ice. Still, I’ve run it.
The third thing we have to do is run on the (GASP!) road. I know. I know. Caitlin made a really good case for road running as trail running. It’s not the worst thing you can do, and in winter, there are times the trails are just not runnable. So we have to run the road, too.
Sunday’s run was crunchy and wet. We wore spikes. The footing was still poor. The lungs felt raw, as if someone had cleaned them with a Brillo pad, and the legs never stopped feeling brittle. We got to just about to 6 miles, and called ourselves satisfied. Then Meghna said it was a good run, because we did it, and it needed to be done, and she was right, and that’s another thing I really ought to do, which is to have a better attitude.