|Trail running. Image from here.|
I was asked to maybe write something about "trail running and the brain", so I gave it a shot. Here's the article, more or less how it may appear in a few months time.
Some runners might avoid trail running due to a (legitimate) concern over twisted ankles. Others stay on the roads because this is where GPS watches -and similar devices- are useful for pace and distance. By contrast, there is no way to interpret what several miles of rugged terrain mean either in terms of speed or mileage. Perhaps one mile up a mountain is worth five on a treadmill. What does running an "even pace" mean on trails? My first mountain race was two laps around a ski hill, and despite never doing such a thing before I kept a constant effort for most of the race. Somehow the body knows. Growing up I had never given much thought to precise pacing in cross country (be it skiing or running); whatever the speed, it always felt instinctively right.