Trail running by night

In the dark….. ahhh….

me and frontale

Last month there was a local night run of 15km, but it was a night trail, and to be honest I wasn’t going to do it, having doubts about running at night especially in forested areas, I don’t like the dark, being a little scaredy cat, but a friend wanted to do it and pursuaded me to run it with him, I just needed to buy a headlamp (a frontale in French) so, as is my style, a couple of hours on the web, and I ordered a Petzl Reactik+, of course not the cheapest of models, I wanted POWER… I wanted to light up the forest ……300 lumens.

(Photo :25th of December, working of the Xmas pudding)

e95hmi-reactik_lowres
Petzl Reactik +

So now I’m equipped to run in the dark, I tried it as soon as it arrived and once fully charged, ran down the path in the field by the house, whow it’s like driving my car with headlights on, you can see almost everything for about 50 / 80m in front of you, at one time I stopped and turned it of, I could barely see my hand in front of my face, once back on could make out most details in front of me, but its a weird sensation, left and right is dark, turn your head to the right, you see the right but no longer in front of you, so strange.

Up came the Saturday for the night trail, over 150 runners, at first I was rather apprehensive but with people all around me the trail  was lit up like a Xmas tree and by the time there were fewer people around me, either because they were far in front or far behind I’d already gotten used to having just my own light lighting up the trail, at one moment I was deep in the forest on a singletrack that I know from biking, with no one in front or behind and finally not even scared, WHOW 🙂

1h25 mins later I’d run the race, even finished 2nd in my category, (I’m 58, 59 end of this month, December 2016) though that was just luck or maybe there were only two runners in my category (as said my wife)

Things that change in night running is the perspective, you have no real idea of your speed or the distance as your view is limited to a patch of light in front of you, a bit like running in a tunnel, you tend to place your feet / footing a little differently although the ground is lit up, it’s not daylight, and you easily miss things that may trip you up or over.

My Garmin Forerunner was a great help, giving me an idea of distant ran to be run.

Anyway I loved it :

So yesterday the first of December 2016 instead of going to the gym, I went for a solo night run. I started of on a large path in the middle of some fields, this being around 5km long (round trip) but when done I wanted more as my legs felt good, the  weather was cold being  minus 4°, but all felt great, so I ran on a very quiet country road for about 1km, this is not very wise as dressed mostly in black any car coming from behind wouldn’t see me, but I was lucky no cars during this stretch on the road, after this stretch I dived into the local forest, now this is where it’s really fun, in the middle of nowhere, your on your own, the only noises were birds taking of from the trees above me, but the imagination starts to work over time ….. every little noise had me looking all over the place. Been watching too many scary films…

The sensation of freedom, light only in front of you, your peripheral vision totally changed almost nonexistent, the sounds or rather lack of sounds, all this is something special,  I finished my run 10 kms in all, at just under 1 hour,

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/embed/1467945002

Update : I’ve now run quite a few night runs, either alone (photo, top of the page) or with friends, though I must admit it’s wiser to run with friends as you never know what can happen, and being alone in the middle of the forest with a twisted ankle or worse could be difficult to manage… .

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Trail running

I’ve been trail running for just over a year now, I found that running on roads is to be honest boring / monotone to say the least

After the Paris Marathon in 2015, which I did just to redo a marathon, the last one being over 30 years ago. I wanted to keep running as for the moment I’ve seem to have lost interest in biking, be it MTB or my singlespeed and needed a soft cardio sport on top of working out at the gym or Crossfit.

Running on roads is for me monotone and to linear,  also tiring (in comparison of trail running for the same distance), probably due to the fact that I still don’t have the right shoes for road running. I’ve been using a pair of Merrel’s – Lantern Silver, a minimalist running shoe with a 0mm drop, No wonder my legs hurt during the Marathon training and the Paris Marathon ……

merrell-lantern-silver

Merrel – Lantern Silver

Maybe if I change for some real road shoes I’ll think differently but doubt it….

So back to my trail running.  I tried a first trail run in September 2015, I’m lucky I’ve only 500m of road from my house and I can then dive in the forest. I ran a trail that I  had been doing regularly on my MTB for the last couple of years so knew it well. It can be anything from 5km to 15km depending on the turns I take.

The first time I only did around 7km, But I loved it, its like being on the mountain bike but running, you need to look and suss out the ground before you, otherwise, rabbit holes, fallen branches, tree roots are all there to make you trip over or fall.

One week later I did it again, this time it had been raining and on the last leg home, slipped on a muddy patch and hurt my calf trying to keep my balance, so once back home I logged onto the web, read several forums for a while, emailed a friend who I knew ran trails and a couple of hours later ordered my first pair of real trail shoes. A pair of Salomon LabSpeed’s expensive but the critics were good and I liked the look of them

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Salomon LabSpeed

The shoes arrived a couple of days later so on my feet they went, and off I went again, Oh boy was this a change from minimalist shoes, I gained a 4mm drop, a sole that was more rigid and treads like on my winter MTB tyres, whow I was blown away,  a totaly different feel with the ground.

The shoes though far slimmer than my Merrels, felt good on the foot (though I would prefer just a little wider) they gripped the foot well in fact very well, their lacing technique (quicklace)  is great, far better than standard laces

One year later :

With these shoes I’ve done around 600 plus kms, I mostly run 10 to 15 kms on Sunday mornings and sometimes a quick 5km run before my personal coach (that sounds so snob) on Saturday morning,   the rest of my time is either at the gym or Crossfit box

A couple of months ago I had a hole that appeared on the top of the shoe where the foot bends, A quick mail to the website here in France where I bought them from and they were replaced immediately, Salomon have a two-year guarantee, so well done Salomon, I’ve got a brand new pair again.