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Trail: Deconstructing the trail running experience

November 4, 2011

What comes before you step outside the door, before you take the first steps on your run? What goes through your head when you choose what to wear, which shoes to pick? What is your outlook on the imminent run? Do you know what to expect? Or, do you have a feeling that your run will surpass your expectations?

Trail running is a mental trip, something you want to experience over and over again. Photo: Fredrik Ölmqvist during a trailrun on Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe, Scotland.

I know what my runs hold: the possibility of strong experiences, gateways to the NOW, the taste of running freedom. When I’m not running I’m intrigued by recalling flying over wet, muddy, slippery, bushy, hazardous, colorful, leaning, turning, bright, soft, hard, open, dark, hidden, nameless, sounding, waiting, challenging ground. Floating over brown, yellow and pinkish autumn colors.
It’s like an awakening from sleep, running out of trails, digging deep into the trickiest trails, the ones used only by larger wild animals. Using my hands climbing steep passages, fallen trees and overgrown rarely used trails. Touching the soil, feeling it with my skin.

Being in the outdoors. Breathing pure air and listening to the sounds of nature. Running takes me there. To get there I can choose the faster, straight and flat way, or the mindbloving route over the hill with a wonderful view over town, secret trails nobody else ever runs and unexpected passages. Good choice! I instantly feel more alive.

Further on the same ridge, the trail got "tricky". Photo: Fredrik Ölmqvist

Trail running is always an option. It’s free skiing, freestyle dancing, brainstorming, going with the flow, getting dirty and rid of the inhibitions. Through the branches I meet the steady glance of a curious roe deer, I continue following their tiny trails down the steep gully, crossing a creek balancing on a slippery log.

Running on wider groomed trails however is a good opportunity for paying attention to running form, stride and posture. I change from TNF’s Single-Track Hayasa (approx 260g) to adidas new sock-like barefoot “shoe” adipure, comparing it with New Balance Minimus Road 2nd generation which is a zero drop minimalistic beauty. “Post running” home on thin soles with a trail-smile.

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