riding and running crossover

My Google calendar is starting to look very interesting — and colorful. Potential endurance rides (if I can bum a horse) are marked in teal. Trail races are marked in lime green. Work stuff in orange, any other personal stuff in purple.

Of course a lot of those teal and lime green marks are splashed across the same date. Of course. OTOH, having trail runs on my calendar keeps me from doing too much teeth gnashing during yet another “off” cycle of my on-again, off-again endurance riding career. And I have to say, I’m really enjoying diving into the deep end of my new-found trail running pursuit.

Coming into endurance, I only experienced the mental uncertainties and frustrations of embarking on a new horse endeavor. I wasn’t a new horse person, and I always had my riding and horse handling skills to fall back on and validate me. I know that if I had been new to horses and taking up distance riding at the same time, it would have been that much more difficult, frustrating, and intimidating.

Enter trail running. Running — on a regular basis — is definitely new to me. I’m participating in my first organized group trail run tonight — and I’m definitely nervous. I already posted on the Facebook group a “newbie alert” and the responses I’ve gotten have been very welcoming, but I can’t help but worry that I’ll be the slowest or worst runner there. I know we all have to start somewhere, but being in this position is giving me even more empathy for the new, green endurance riders just starting out.

Regular running may be a new thing for me, but there are definitely elements of trail — and ultimately ultra — running that I believe will crossover nicely with things I’ve learned from endurance riding.

— Mental discipline. This is is high on the list. You don’t get through any kind of endurance sport without it. Riding back-of-the-pack has taught me the value in pacing, controlling race brain, and not going out too fast. The longer the distance, the more time you have.

  • One of the reasons I’m looking forward to moving up in running distance is the idea of more time. I’m doing this for enjoyment, so I want to be able to pause and take in the scenery, or taking a photo. It also allows a pack of runners to spread out and have alone time — my only complaint about the 7k was it was too short in that I never got that space bubble, and needed to keep moving lest I get passed by all the people I just passed on the uphill.

— Body awareness. I’ve learned, through saddle time, how to identify what to push through, discomfort-wise, and what means “stop now before you break yourself.” Running will be a different set of muscles, joints, and aches, but the theory remains the same.

— Food/drink tolerances. I’ve learned what I do and don’t like when my body is working hard.

  • I hate Honey Stinger gels, but love the lemon-lime chews. 
  • GU Chomps are my least favorite chews — hardest for me to chew, and have some weird aftertastes. 
  • Gels are okay as a last resort, but I do best with real food. 
  • I’d rather have meat and cheese slices than a whole sandwich. 
  • Powerade is better than Gatorade, and both need to be cut with water. 
  • Succeed Amino and Clip2 are my favorite sports drinks out there. 
  • Succeed S!Caps are my favorite electrolytes.
  • Eating too heavy of a meal too soon before an activity isn’t good — but once I’m doing that activity, food is good.
  • Too much sugary stuff doesn’t help me. Real food.
  • Chocolate tends to make me queasy.
  • Ginger settles my stomach.
— Gear similarities.
  • Kerrits IceFil shirts make great running shirts. And tech race shirts likewise will be good riding shirts.
  • I suspect, come winter, my riding tights will double as running tights…just ignore the knee patches. (The same can’t be said for running tights — they all have inner seams.)
  • My current trail running shoes are also really good for riding. Ultimately, I don’t know if I will end up still using them as exclusive run shoes as I increase the miles…but it’s nice to know they’ll work “well enough” to be a crossover ride and run shoe so that I can comfortably get off and run with the horse. (I can’t run in Ariat Terrains.)
  • I’m just as fussy about carrying stuff for running as I am my packs on my saddle. (I’m a complete PITA about this.) I have a water pack, a waist pack, and a handheld…I suspect, like with my saddle, I will use multiple configurations for different purposes.
    • For LDs, I can get away with large front packs and boot bags. 50s, I have to either add a pommel pack or add a personal water pack.
    • Running, my plan is:
      • Handheld for runs that are 1-hour long or less, and when I’m running alone. When I run with Artemis, I need to carry water for her as well, plus I need my hands to hold her leash.
      • Hydration pack for longer runs or runs with Artemis. I can fit a 50-70oz bladder, plus two 10-oz bottles in my running pack.
      • Waist pack for walks only. Pressure on my abdomen over an extended period of time while jogging tends to give me cramps and/or GI tract complaints. The most I can comfortably carry is a tiny waist pack with my phone/keys.
  • Outdoor/camping gear — tent, sleeping bag, everything-under-the-sun-should-I-need-to-camp.
  • Already have a stack of good sports bras.
  • Already well acquainted with foul weather and gear that works (or doesn’t).
  • Already know merino wool socks are my best option. (And have a number of pairs.)
I’m eager to pick the brains of people much more experienced than I am…I have some race goals in the back of my mind of races/distances I would like to aim for and find out if that’s just way too ambitious, or just crazy-but-doable.
It might be on my own two feet rather than four hooves, but at least I’ve found a way to get out there on the trail.

3 thoughts on “riding and running crossover

  1. Yay another convert :) You're probably already a better runner than I am (was). I always went for the longest possible distance because the longer you're out there, the less you're expected to actually run and the more you can walk. ;)

  2. Yeeeeeessssss…I embrace the concept of run-walk combo. I may be a fair-to-middling runner…but I can power-hike all day long. I can't wait to do a more hilly, technical course — I think that'll be even more my strength than the flat, “easy” courses.

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