My first trail run.

Firstly…happy third birthday, gorgeous boy.

Cool, eh?

Right. Running.

For AGES now, I’ve been talking about trying trail running. I live about half an hour from some of the most amazing forested trails I’ve ever seen and hiked, it’s prime trail-running land round here. But I’ve never actually done it. Primarily due to my cautious nature – the idea of running alone in a forest doesn’t sound safe at all, and I don’t have any local running buddies who have been able to come with me…and the thought of getting the Husband to come (and thus I have to push the Dude around) is not attractive. So I’ve not gone trail running. I have purchased some spectacular trail running shoes, I have devoured Aron and Jojo’s trail running blogs, I have signed up for a 10k trail race…but my delicate, suburban feet have yet to hit a dirt path.

Until Sunday.

On Saturday, I accumulated enough brownie points to be able to easily persuade the Husband that he wanted to come with me and the Dude to Huddart Park and to play with the Dude for an hour so I could run. So we did just that. We drove there, parked up, the Dude ran onto the grass shrieking in joy…and I said goodbye to my boys and literally plunged into the forests.

My starter for ten…

It. Was. Amazing.

I loved it. I know Huddart Park relatively well, well enough to have a sense of direction and to know some of the loops we have hiked in the past, so I started with the trails I knew. The ground was soft and damp and covered in brightly coloured leaves. The air was crisp and clean. It was just me, my feet and the trails and I loved it instantly. When you’re a Mum, you very rarely get time on your own, so the solitude was precious. I couldn’t remember the last time I was in a wood on my own. Ten years ago, maybe, in London, so hardly on my own anyway. But suddenly it was just me, with my new running passion, in the redwoods and I loved it. I felt like Katniss as I ran through the forest. (Ridiculous, I know).

A lovely, leafy bit of single-track

I was struck by the differences between road and trails. Apart from the obvious things (softer surfaces, trees, no cars) it’s things like having to watch carefully where to put your feet – avoiding rocks, roots, slippy mud. I gave up very quickly on monitoring my time…I kept having to tread carefully on downhills, stop to climb over logs, pause to read trail signage. Another difference is the temperature difference between the clearings and the wooded trails. I was chilly, then I was hot, then I was chilly. My first mile or so was downhill so I effortlessly cruised along, feeling SO happy. My Nike Plus app suddenly, loudly, informed me that I’d run one mile and I seriously leapt out of my skin. The silence, apart from my breathing, was beautiful. Then I stumbled on yesterday’s twisted ankle and it hurt, and it struck me how far from the Husband I was and how alone I was. So I tried running gently and quickly it stopped hurting and I was able to run carefully, but I was very conscious of protecting my weak ankle.

How lucky to get to run this?
Happy!! Buzzing.

After a mile or so (mainly downhill) it was obviously time for the uphill. I started up a little single-track trail (see, I know all the terminology).  I’ve hiked the uphill trail – the Dude has hiked it. But running it was so hard – I had to pause once to catch my breath! So I learned another lesson – about how the trails humble you, remind you you’re not as fit as you think you are.  I got back to the playground to find my boys, seriously out of breath but grinning like a Cheshire Cat.


Having checked in , I set off again for another mile or so. I took a new trail to me, and had obviously learned to pace myself better because although it was uphill, I wasn’t too breathless. It was beautiful. It struck me how safe I felt – I’m by nature risk averse, but I felt very safe here. Every now and again I would see people, which made me feel safer, and no-one looked dodgy. In fact the other two runners I saw were both single women, which comforted me. And knowing that the Husband wasn’t that far away was also reassuring, whether rightly so or not.  However my map wasn’t the best. I got to a clearing in the woods, checked my map and knew I wasn’t confident which way to go, so I took Jojo’s advice about doing out-and-backs for safety’s sake, and set off back the way I came. I finished with a relatively flat half mile and felt like I was playing – like I was out on a rowing boat on a lake and just playing around until it was time for me to go back in. It was so much fun.

I had to clamber over these
An amazing moment, running through these tall trees

I got back to the boys absolutely buzzing, and we drove off for a late lunch at Alice’s, my favourite local restaurant that I suddenly realised I hadn’t mentioned in my recent ode to California. That’s now rectified.

Nike Plus told me I’d run 4 miles. I don’t have much confidence in that, the trees may well have meant lost satellites at some points, but it feels roughly right. I don’t know my pace but I know it was much slower than my road pace…but whatever. Not fussed.

So…Trail Run Number One. Utterly brilliant. Totally hooked. No idea when I’ll be able to go again but so SO in love with it!!

One happy runner

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Trail running IS fun. I used to hate it because I hated coming back all dirty with my shoes looking like crap. But in Germany, I lived near miles and miles of trails and took full advantage.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Haha…I actually wore my normal running shoes instead of my lovely trail shoes because it had rained and I didn’t want them to get muddy. I love getting muddy, but not these shoes!!! Germany’s so lovely, I really like the country. It’s so under-rated!!

  2. Laura says:

    I totally agree, running the road so so so much, I really look forward to the peace and natural beauty that is a trail run- you get your run *and* your strength training in on all those hills and uneven foot falls, plus recovery is much easier due to the soft terrain.

    Now I wanna go on a trail run too!!!!!!! 😉

    1. Cathryn says:

      Do it!! It was great. I won’t be able to go that often but I can’t wait till next time.

  3. Aron says:

    AHHH so happy for you! Huddart is AMAZING, I need to go back there myself 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thanks!!! Do go back, it was so much fun.

  4. Karen A says:

    That trail looks like a lot of fun! I’ve been meaning to try it too 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      Do you live locally?? I need a trail buddy! Yeah, it was fantastic. I’m still buzzing.

  5. Jen says:

    I wished we lived closer to each other. We could do so many fun trail runs together!
    I’ve never felt unsafe in any of the trails here in the East Bay; I’m assuming it’s the same feeling over where you live. I guess the trails are in really nice areas in general, so there aren’t a lot of sketchy/seedy characters around. The main danger is getting lost or hurt on the trail.

    You need to get your trail shoes muddy! You won’t be a certified trail runner until you do so!! 😉

    1. Cathryn says:

      I know, it would be so much fun. Maybe after CIM and when you can run for fun again, let’s try and organise a trail running morning. It would be fab.

      1. Jen says:

        Sounds like a plan!

  6. Jojo says:

    Love love love this!! Look at that huge smile 🙂 your photos are beautiful, I’ve heard amazing things about Huddart Park, I’ll have to check it out sometime. Happy trails-

  7. Kristen says:

    Catching up – what a beautiful trail! Looks like an amazing first trail run!

    1. Cathryn says:

      It was GOOD!! Got a 10k in the diary for December…likely to be my second trail run 😉

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