My current Walk into The Future has allowed me to grow in multiple areas. I have put an emphasis on my running program to expand my mental and physical capacities.
This extra attention to running provides me with an outlet to explore new places to run, stimulate my mind and to a degree get some sightseeing in. I have been creative when identifying locations to run to combat the concept of boredom. I rarely run the same route twice in a week—I’m able to leverage my neighborhood and parks to keep my route from getting stale. I’ve recently discovered and added local trails to my running routine in my efforts to get faster at the half marathon distance.
St. Marks Trail
My goal to run a half marathon under two hours provides an additional level of motivation to my runs. My old running routine did not incorporate a ‘true’ long run as part of my training. I would routinely get a couple 6-mile, or 7-mile runs in before a race but that was the longest distance I put in. Most running programs identify long runs in the 10-mile to 12-mile distance. I was introduced to the St. Marks Trail by friends who know this trail would provide me mile options to get a true long run in to help with my training.
The St. Marks Trail is a converted railway that runs from Tallahassee, Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. The trail is listed as 20 miles long and is extremely flat. It provides an ideal place to build up mileage and is well marked to keep track of distances. The trail is maintained by state trail rangers and there are facilities (bathroom, water fountains, rest areas) along the trail which makes it a popular choice for bicycle enthusiasts, runners and walkers.
My longest run to date on the St. Marks Trail is 12 miles…6 out and 6 back. Enjoyed the concept of not having to ‘map’ out a course and hope it meets the distance I needed for the specific day. I have designated the St. Marks Trail as my go to location now for my long run days. The long runs concept was instrumental in getting me ready for the New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon in early February. Putting additional effort into my long run process prepared me better to perform during the actual race. I was able to reduce my personal best time down to 2:10:39 (two hours, ten minutes and 39 seconds) official. Believe my mid-race and late race endurance was enhanced because I now have the capability to incorporate long runs into my training program.
Projecting to incorporate 15-mile runs on the St. Marks Trail to continue to build my endurance, speed and mental approach for the other races I’m registered for later in the year.
Lafayette Heritage_Alford Greenway
The Lafayette Heritage_Alford Greenway (LHAG) trail provides a different challenge from the St. Marks Trail. I can access the LHAG trail from home so don’t need to get into a car. I simply lock my door and walk a little less than half a mile and I’m off and running on the trail. The LHAG trail provides a lot of scenic views as you run through a neighborhood and public park to access the dirt portion of the trail. This trail then allows you to run dirt trails next to lakes and ponds, so it is a great way to experience nature during a run. I occasionally see rabbits, hawks and alligators as I work my way deeper into the run. The terrain changes multiple times which makes it challenging and fun all at the same time. There are inclines to climb on the trail which makes it a bit harder than the St. Marks Trail. I normally can get a good 6-mile run in (out and back) for this trail but feel it more because the inclines are very steep. This is good for building my endurance but does nothing for my speed. 😊 It also helps when I’m in a time crunch—I don’t have to drive anywhere to run—just go out and back and I’m done.
There are other trails nearby to add to my running program. Will do some additional scouting to identify distances available on these other trails and start running them soon.
Will leverage trail running more as I expand my Walk into The Future! More to come!