Trail running became my new challenge this year.
I have always loved running and hiking but never really did trail running. I decided 2018 was the year I would finally start trail running. I signed up for the WTF quarter marathon, Hot as Hell quarter marathon, and the Cactus Flower Run Series.
The WTF quarter marathon was in January. It did not go well. I started off feeling pretty good. I thought I was running strong and taking my time to walk up steep inclines. I took a photo at the highest point. It was a gorgeous day! I crashed around mile 3. I thought I was not going to be able to finish. I had dizziness and felt like a walking drunk. Oh, did I mention I threw up? Yaaaaah, that was fun. You can read all the details on my wrap-up.
I signed up for the Hot as Hell quarter marathon but my anxiety got the best of me. It was the same company and trail as the WTF quarter marathon. I ended up switching to a virtual version and running in my neighborhood.
I need to tackle one of the quarter marathons in 2019 to say FUCK YOU to the part of me that says I can’t do it.
The Cactus Flower Run Series consists of three races in the spring and three in the fall. The races are a 5k, 6k, and 7k at two different parks. I did the final race of 2017 and decided to go for the entire series this year.
The series started in March with the 7k. I did another virtual version. The day before became a clusterfuck and I wasn’t able to get home or eat before 10 pm. I woke up feeling like I was hit by a truck. In April I ran the 6k in 59:12. I had similar issues I had at the WTF trail run (without the puking, thank god) and did a lot of walking. The 5k was in May and I ended a run/walk in 44:26.
The fall series started back up in October with the 5k. Since the course is the same it is easy to compare and see how far I’ve come. I improved my time to 41:34 in the 5k. November was the 6k and I improved my time by almost nine (9!) minutes with a time of 50:53. Finally, the 7k was in December and I finished in 52:46! Shaved a few minutes off of the virtual in March but in December 2017 I ran it in 58:59 so in one year shaved off over six minutes!
What have I learned this year?
First, I found out I had vocal chord dysfunction and that was causing a lot of the dizziness I was experiencing. I got on medication and haven’t had issues while road running since. Second, I know I need to walk up some inclines in trail races. I am able to do some inclines (longer, less steep ones) but anything steep I need to walk. I’m ok with that. It means I can run the flat and downhills with some speed!
But what about that dizziness?
I poked around the internet a bit and the dizziness I experience on trails might be motion sickness or vertigo. I have been to my asthma/allergist and my GP. They have tested me for everything that could be causing dizziness. Besides the vocal chord dysfunction, there is nothing wrong with me. I have an issue with looking down while I run. I know this. I do it during road runs as well. Apparently, looking down on the trail can cause motion sickness and/or vertigo. The good news is that means there is something I can work on to fix the problem.
In my very last trail race of the year, I decided to see if I could fix the issue and I DIDN’T GET DIZZY! I focused and kept my head up (often repeating the Oiselle phrase “head up wings out” and I didn’t have the issue. I assume it was a form of motion sickness from looking down. When I had people in front of me I tried to focus on them or if I was close the spot ahead of them that I wanted to take!
I am not ready to give up on trail races yet.
I love trail running. I love being outside, away from traffic, people, and the city. I crave the time on the trail. I am going to keep working on my form. I try to catch myself but it’s easy to get into a lull of running. My brain wanders and I go on autopilot! Now to decide which trail runs I sign up for. I am considering doing the WTF, Hot as Hell, and the series again. Call me crazy.
What tips do you have to fix my form and keep my head up?