Chase, Adam & Nancy Hobbs. The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running: Everything You Need to Know About Equipment, Finding Trails, Nutrition, Hill Strategy, Racing, Avoiding Injury, Training, Weather, Safety (Guilford, CT: FalconGuides, 2010)
One of the highest compliments I can pay to a book--besides rereading it--is wishing that I had read it years ago. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that it would have been helpful for me to have read The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running before taking participating in my first trail race [*see note below] last weekend. This tip alone could have saved me a fair amount of effort:
When confronted with rocks, fallen trees, water bars (the barriers that are placed to direct runoff to the side of the trail), and other obstacles that lay across the trail on mountain ascents, avoid stepping directly on the objects. Instead of wasting motion to lift your entire body weight straight up, time your steps to land as close to the barrier as possible so that the next step can easily clear the obstacle and land above it on the trail. (p. 32)
The authors include what appears to be just about everything: a little about acclimation to high altitude, some discussion of ultrarunning, strength training and stretching, trail shoes and gear, nutrition and hydration, injuries and hazards, and even information about organizing a trail race.
My treadmill gets used much less now that seasonally inclement weather has abated, I avoid track workouts as being only marginally more interesting, and I skip roads in favor of trails whenever I can. The authors make an excellent point that trails help runners in ways other than avoiding monotony:
When runners complain of overuse injuries, it's a safe bet to assume that they got hurt from running on roads. Pounding the pavement with little variation in stride or foot strike, mile after mile, just isn't natural. We're simply not made for logging big miles on the streets. (p. xv)
I knew that I had caught the trail bug when I started salivating over an announcement about a 50K lakeside trail race this fall. The rationalizations began almost immediately: I'll still be in good shape from the summer racing season, it's not too far a drive from home, the shaded course offers relief from UV exposure, and--my favorite excuse--it's a great entry-level ultra distance...only 5 miles longer than a marathon!
There's no doubt that I'll be rereading The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running as part of my race preparation.
*note: My first trail race was a spur-of-the-moment decision to add a little adventure to my marathon training--and the word technical has since acquired a much different meaning to me than the one to which I had been accustomed. "Technical rocky descents" and "a nasty uphill finish" left me rather sore for a short course--at this point in my training, anything less than a half-marathon counts as a "short run"--but I'm already looking forward to running it again next year!