Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why You Should ONLY Run ALONE On Trails

I do almost all my training alone. There are a few reasons for this:

1) My schedule is crazy so I have to fit runs in at odd times.
2) I am self-conscious about the fact that I'm not very fast. I don't want to hold people up or beat up my body trying to keep up.
3) There's something so seriously awesome about being out in the middle of nowhere without another human being in sight.
4) I have a bad habit of stopping to get a fat, ice cold Dr. Pepper after a long, hot run. Because why wouldn't you? I mean Dr. Pepper is delicious. It seems like it was specifically developed for recovery after a long run. And it's inventor should earn a Nobel Peace Prize....or an Emmy....or whatever you give someone who makes utterly delicious things.

Last week I was reminded of a few other reasons why it's usually best for me to run alone. I went on a long run in the beautiful (and sweltering) southern Utah desert. Everything started off fine. The scenery was worthy of a jumping picture.

I was running along, feeling moderately decent, envisioning a post-run Dr. Pepper, and enjoying the beauty that was surrounding me.

Then I heard a rustling behind me. I had enough time to think "Well, great. A mountain lion is going to eat me. That's embarrassing." I turned around and there was nothing there. A few minutes later I heard more rustling behind me. Again, I turned around to see nothing. Then I realized that the rustling I heard behind me wasn't actually a mountain lion. It was the flap on the back of my hat blowing in the wind. You know, the kind of hat that shouldn't be worn in public.

I kept heading up the trail when suddenly I saw out of the corner of my eye something shooting toward me. It happened so fast that I couldn't see what it was, maybe a bumble bee or a wasp or a mutant gigantic deer fly, but the thing smacked me right on my upper lip! Right in the moustache zone.....if I could actually grow a moustache. I immediately let out this kind of teenage girl scream. It was a sound that really shouldn't have been made by an adult male. I thanked my guardian angels for 1) Allowing that thing to fly into my lip instead of into my mouth, and 2) Gratitude for the fact that nobody else heard my involuntary sissy scream. I was thankful I was alone.

And in pure contradiction to my proclamation that it's best to run alone, I ran the same 16ish mile route a few days later with my friends Tom and David. The sunrise was kind of ridiculous.

Tom had never been to the hills of Browse, Utah before. He is a sub-3 hour marathon runner with his first ever 50k race, Speedgoat, coming up in a few weeks. He wanted some tips on pacing so his legs are still strong toward the end of the race. I'm nowhere near fast, but I feel like one thing I've gotten decent at over the years is smart race pacing. (Often I learned those lessons the hard way.)

David is also a runner I really admire. He has a crazy work schedule but still manages to get runs in before work (which often means a 4:00am start). We made it to our turnaround at the Browse ranger station which feels like it's in the middle of absolute nowhere.

During our run I was reminded why it's great to run with other runners - the scenery pictures look really cool with runners in them. Running with others is fun! It's different. It makes the miles pass quickly.

It was a completely awesome, completely beautiful run.....made even better because no mutant insects flew into my moustache zone.


  1. Beautiful scenery. I wonder who takes those great pics of you when you run alone?? I would love to do trail runs alone, too, but as a woman, am worried about my safety out there alone, and that is a sad state of affairs!

    1. @Elle I am a young woman and I've run alone for years in the city and in the backcountry. Zero problems. I run with pepper spray (for oddballs in the city and mtn. lions in the backcountry). There are nearly zero cases of women being attacked and/or assaulted while trail running. Far more dangerous to go to the supermarket unaware. Join the trails!!!

  2. So the message really is that you should run. In beautiful areas. With people or without.

  3. I constantly think I'm being followed because there is a strap on my vest that flaps around. -_- And even though I know it's flapping, I still have to look over my shoulder from time to time "just to be sure."

  4. I have super long hair that I throw in a ponytail when running - I have seriously jumped and screamed when my hair whipped around and I could feel it on my all fairness, it was my first night run and I was jumpy already....Just last week, I ran without glasses and freaked out when a fat cat crossed the road. I was positive that it was some rabid forest animal out for blood until I came closer and it purred at me and proceeded to rub against my leg.
    I used to be a very solo runner but when you're running twice a day, five - six days / can be pretty boring being by yourself ALL THE TIME....I only have so many deep thoughts and 90s pop can only pull you out of so many lows.... I find that also having individuals that you have committed to running with gives you that extra level of accountability. Generally, I do my group / friend runs AFTER work which is the hardest time for me to run solo because I just want to go home and shove my face into the fridge then pass out at an embarrassingly early hour