Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Running Trails at Night

As always I like to repost this as the days get shorter and training at night becomes the norm.

Gina and I have run trails by headlamp and flashlight since we first got into trail running back in 2001. Due to time constraints, most of our fall and winter running occurs after dark. Both of us prefer to run on trails and don't want to let darkness keep us from staying in trail running shape. In addition, there are aspects of running at night that you just can't put into words.

A lot of people ask us how we can run at night because they feel it is more dangerous.  My experience trail running and directing a night trail race for the last 4 years tells me the danger is the same as during the day, if not less.  As long as you have a decent light you should have no problem with night running because of the following;

  • because it is dark you tend to run slower.
  • you tend to be prepared for rocks and roots that can trip you.
  • you, typically, are focused on the trail in front of you and little else.

Light Source:
My lighting preference is to use a LED headlamp and a flashlight. LEDs are a very energy efficient lighting source and cast a white glow (I can't stand to buy and go through a lot of batteries. LEDs have really helped increase the run time of battery operated lights). Depending on your LED headlamp, the beam emitted will be a glow or a focused beam. There are countless options of headlamps for a variety of uses. I've yet to find a headlamp that lights up the trail and allows you to get depth perception.

When running at night you get depth perception from shadows being cast from your light sourceThe best way to get shadows is to use a flashlight. Holding a light lower, in your hand, helps to get the shadows you need to identify rocks, roots, and other obstacles in your way.
With this in mind I usually only run using a flashlight, but if I'm planning to run a trail fast, run a rocky or rooty trail, or run a steep downhill, I will also use a headlamp too. Not only does this help minimize getting injured on the trail but it is also smart to have a backup light source in case your primary light stops working.

All major brands have a good selection of flashlights and headlamps.  I'd say the most common ones you'll find locally will be Priceton Tec and Petzl.  Both companies make great lights and the newest lights are starting to be sold with rechargeable batteries (an idea that should have come before now).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Training the Week of 9/26/11

9/27/11 - Did my usual 6 mile loop in 42 minutes and then did a 1.5 mile cool down
9/28/11 - Injured my left shin.  Swollen to soft ball size.  Bummer.  Not sure when I'll be back on my feet running.  Whole story is that 2 3x5' sheets of slate (approx. 400lbs) fell over on top of me, mashing my leg into the ground. 

This picture is from my October 7th visit to the orthopedic to have him drain the hematoma (9 days after initial injury).  Notice my knee (right) is much smaller than my ankle (left).  Good times.
9/30/11 - 20 miles of cycling to Green hill park and back.
10/1/11 - 29 miles of cycling - Starlight to get on BRP, to deer crossing and back through downtown and Grandin.  Very windy.
10/2/11 - 28 miles of cycliing - Green Hill Park, Harborwood, Main Street and back on Apperson.  Lots of wind today.
Ran 4 miles to see how my legs would do.
11.5 miles running and 77 miles cycling.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Training the Week of 9/19/11

9/20/11 - Still sore from Sunday's run and wasn't too motivated.  Did my usual 6 mile loop in 45 minutes.
9/21/11 - Cove run - 4 Gorge, up the 1000ft climb to the Drop, tuck a way, comet and out on the road for a 7.6 mile loop.
9/23/11 - Track workout V - Did a 3 mile trail warm-up and then a few 100s of butt kicks and knee lifts.  1 mile with a 400m RI (5:53), 2 x 1 mile with a 800m RI (6:00 and 5:54), 2 x 800m with 400m RI (2:54 & 2:53).  Felt pretty good.  It was raining hard the whole workout.
9/25/11 - 20 miles of trail and road running.  Since last weeks long run didn't go too smoothly due to the boring effect road has on me I decided to hit the trails for this weeks run.  Started at the Star Trail parking lot and ran the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k course, headed out to Chestnut Ridge on the Woodthrush Trail, did Chestnut Ridge Loop CCW, back on Woodthrush and then finished with 4 miles on the Greenway.  When I  got back to the parking lot I changed my shoes and did the 4 miles on the greenway in 6:45ish miles.  Felt good and was happy to have something left for the greenway.  This run was much more to my liking.  The whole 20 miles was run at a 9:00 min/mile  pace.
43.3 miles of running.

Training the Week of 9/12/11

9/13/11 - Ran my typical 6 mile loop in 41:18 and then did a 1.5 mile cooldown.
9/14.11 - Cove run.  Hotel and Buck (24 minutes), then down Hi Dee Ho for 6.2 miles.
9/16/11 - Track workout IV - Did my usual 3 mile trail warm-up then did a few 100s of butt kicks and knee lifts.  6 x 400m with 1:30 RI (1:17, 1:19, 1:20, 1:21, 1:30, 1:20) then rest for 2:30 and do 6 x 400m (1:19, 1:16, 1:24, 1:24, 1:24, 1:22) with 1:30 RI.  Things were going smoothly until the PH PE class came out to the track on my last 4 laps.  I had to run in between a lot of walkers which added some time and distance to each lap.  First track workout that felt OK.  9.2 miles.
9/17/11 - Biked 8 miles at Explore Park doing trail maintenance.
9/18/11 - 17.75 road run.  Did my Lewis Gale loop then and out and back on the greenway in 7:20 pace and 143 HR average.
40.75 miles running and 8 mtn biking.

Training the Week of 9/5/11

9/5/11 - Since I didn't run the past few days and this was Labor Day I decided to run on my typical day off, Monday.  Ran 10 mile road loop in a 7:14ave.
9/7/11 - Cove run - Hi Dee Ho to Buck, to the road and back.  6 miles.
9/9/11 - Track workout III - 6 x 800m with a 1:30 RI.  Ran 3 miles of trail to warm-up and then a few 100s of butt kicks and knee highs to get ready (2:48, 2:52, 2:53, 2:54, 2:56, 2:59).  Was supposed to be in the 2:52-2:54 range for these and started to trail off at the end.  I'm not a huge fan of track work.
9/11/11 - Ran 10 miles road loop in 7:14 ave and HR ave of 139.
Came back to the house, refilled my water bottle and went out for 5 more at 7:34 ave and 139 HR ave.
38.5 miles of running.

Training the Week of 8/29/11

8/30/11 - Ran my typical 6 mile loop at 41:17 then a 1.5 mile cooldown.
8/31/11 - 7.75 miles at the cove.  4 Gorge, up the 1000ft, and down Hi Dee Ho.  Legs started heavy but gradually got better.
9/2/11 - Track Workout II - Did a 3 mile trail warm-up and then a few 100s of butt kicks and knee lifts before starting the workout.  2 x 1200m with 2min RI (4:21 and 4:25) and then 2 x 800m with 2 min RI (2:52 and 2:54).  7.2 miles total.
9/3/11 - 14.25 miles of mtn biking at Dupont State Forest in Hendersonville NC.
9/4/11 - 10 miles of mtn biking at Bent Creek in Asheville NC.
22.45 of running and 24.25 of mtn biking.

Training the Week of 8/22/11

8/23/11 - Ran my typical 6 mile loop in 42:21 and then a 1.5 mile cool down.  Legs felt heavy and I went at about 85%.
Rode 20 miles on the road later that evening.
8/24/11 - Ran 10 miles at the Cove.  Road, comet, enchanted forest, schoolhouse to the Happy Valley Fire road and then back.  Ran pretty hard with an average HR of 139.
8/26/11 - First track workout.  I'm going to follow the Run Less Run Faster workout plan with only 1 modification and that will be to have 4 runs a week instead of 3.  What I like about this training plan is, not only the few running days, but the charting of the pace you run during each run and your predicted race time.  It makes you be realistic in your ability.
I usually run Tuesday morning hard, Wednesday night trail run moderate, Friday will be my track workout and Sunday will be my long run.  Today called for 3 x 1 mile repeats with a 1 minute Rest Interval (RI).  I ran a warm-up 3 miles and then a couple of 100s of butt kicks and knee lifts.  Then did 2 of the 3 intervals at 6 minute pace.  The 1 minute RI killed me.  6.25 miles total.
8/28/11 - Ran 17 miles on the Greenway.  From my house to the end of the greenway and to the new section that will link Tinker Creek to the river was 8.5 miles.  So it was an out and back.  7:45m/mile average.
40.75 miles of running and 20 cycling.