A few weeks ago, my good friend Sarah visited us from freezing Chicago in balmy Austin.  Sarah is your usual American, super-fit, active young lady who loves working out and loves her butter as well :).  We wanted to get outdoors and after debating driving out to Lake Travis etc., I decided that we hadn’t even tried our local trails much so on Saturday morning we went out to the Barton Greenbelt with access at Spyglass. We wanted to do a good 5-6 mile hike but of course we lost the trail at some point (we went West on the trail), not knowing that we had to cross the dried stream. Among other fun antics, I tried trail running for the first time and OMG, I totally loved it!

Now trail running is a slightly different ball game from road running. Whenever I’ve asked road runners about trail running, they screw up their nose and say, “Oh, it’s a very different skill set. You have to get your feet wet”. And then I’m like…and so? How is that a different skill set? Sometimes I think trail runners and road runners are like 2 suspicious dogs, circling each other and sniffing each other but not really crossing paths!

The thing about trails are well, they are trails. There are rocks, roots, pebbles, cliffs over-hanging dry or running creeks, creeks (which involves getting wet), slippery stones, steep rocky slopes etc. They are not the dust/dirt trails nicely paved and maintained for the walk in the park such as Townlake trail. These are hiking trails through the woods and yes, people run on them.

Sarah was a fast runner on those trails, having grown up in Northern CA. So when I hooked up with my friend Savi who knows all the trails around Austin, I warned her that I’d be slow. She said it was fine. Gayatri also joined us and we drove to St. Edward’s park off Spicewood Springs Road.

It was a gorgeous spring morning in Austin. The air was humid, but cool. Spring time means flowers were about, the little creek had some water. It was so much fun just being out there in the woods. The smells (Sarah loves these), the sounds of all the birds and the water and just us chit-chatting. We took turns between running and hiking the tougher parts. We did about 2, two-mile loops. One loop took us on a trail on a high cliff overlooking the creek and across at the hills in the surrounding area which was beautiful! I couldn’t imagine we were still in the middle of the city and in these deep, dark, gorgeous woods!

Different people have different reactions to trail running. Lot of people don’t enjoy the variation on the course and the rocks and of course, the water/mud. There are special shoes for trail running but I can do with the Mizunos until I feel worse in them. The ankles seemed to be doing a lot of work while running and I found myself running a lot on the balls of my feet, especially on the inclines. I enjoyed the feeling tremendously. The variations such as the rocks, dirt etc. get me excited. The feeling of being out in Nature makes me feel very tranquil at the same time. And after a long time, almost a month, I think I got the runner’s high again. So next race season, I’m going to do a trail race! Following the lead of many Asha runners such as Murali, Ganesh, Savi and Sharanya, I’m totally sold on this.