Bike Path Etiquette

As part of my running path exploration, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time on a trail that leads along a canal in LA..  It’s everything you could hope for in a run/bike path: it has dividing lines, scenery, pretty flowers along the trail, multiple entrances, and of course the ending at the beach.  However, I’ve noticed that my fellow canal path goers aren’t following what I consider to be the basic etiquette for any sort of shared bike/path/walkway.  A few incidents on yesterday’s run have led me to compile the below list of path etiquette rules to keep in mind.

Here are my fundamental etiquette rules for shared roadway:

  1. Never run/bike/walk in the middle of the road – allow space for others to pass you
  2. Try not to run/bike/walk haphazardly all over the path (thereby also not allowing others to pass you)
  3. Dogs should be on leashes – I don’t care how adorable your pet is, I don’t know them.
  4. Be mindful of your baby stroller/bike trailer/wagon – they have a tendency to run into unsuspecting victims
  5. Look both ways before entering/leaving the path – you never know who’s trying to pick up some speed
  6. I’m sorry bikers, but you aren’t the kings and queens of the space, try not to be divas about it (full update to come on this later)
  7. Large groups should try their best to separate into smaller packs – it’s very hard to move out of the way for a five person across line
  8. And of course, just be courteous to your fellow path-goers!

While this is definitely not an exhaustive list, I think it would do wonders for the overall experience of paths. Let me know if you have any other rules of the road!  As always, run on runners.

-Kendall

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The big 5-0

So let’s get this straight. Over 10,000 feet of elevation change, never more than three steps without being interrupted by a rock, root or mud pit, humidity level of 80% at race time, and you just end up right back where you started? Hmmm, sounds like an exercise in futility to me.

But wait, people pay good money for all of this and more: free potatoes, pretzels, candy, pb&j’s and all the sports drink you can consume at not one but six different aid stations. OK, I’m listening. Cool T-shirt, a pair of arm sleeves, post-race meal and a free beer!! Wait, did someone say free….hey, count me in. Now, what do I need to do? What?? 31 miles???

The North Face Challenge had its Northeast regional event last weekend at scenic Bear Mountain, NY, and for the second year I participated in the 50K event on Saturday morning. In addition to everything mentioned above, I got to run on one of the most scenic courses around, with challenging terrain (rated 5 out of 5 for difficulty) and a rugged band of crazies crashing the trails. Although nearly 60 would not finish, (some due to injuries but I suspect most due to the humidity) we had around 220 finishers in total for the 50K.

With my training partner Ron leading the way, we managed to average a 12:26 pace for the course, which was good for us, and we were able to shave nearly an hour off last year’s effort, finishing in 6:25:00. We even made it into the top 10 of our age group! Of course it is a bit disconcerting to see one of the 50-milers breeze by you along the way, but those folks are nuts anyway!

North Face does a great job with this event, very well-organized and structured. If you’re of a mind to get into trail running, do some training first then look to one of their events. I believe there are six different locations around the US, with distances range from 5K up to the 50-miler.

This 50K finish was the culmination of several months of training, and serves as a great base from which to work through the rest of the year. Rumor has it Ron wants to join the nutters on a 50-miler later in the year. For that, I put my foot down. At least two free beers or I’m not going!

Happy Hoofing,

Michael

The Call of the Trail

For avid runners the road does call, and off you go to conquer all                                            

But those whose detour into the woods, find something rare, something good

Trail running is a great compliment to regular road running, and many consider it preferable to time on the pavement.  I have certainly become a convert as it provides many advantages, and I now balance out my running with time in each realm.  Here are a few of the benefits of trail running:

– improves balance:  because footing is variable, one moment soft pine needles, another a boulder field or ‘boney’ root patch, you are forced to focus on and maintain balance at all times.

– strengthens feet:  each step is unique because of the different landing positions, requiring you to use all the muscles in the foot.  In particular it forces your foot to ‘hug’ the rocks and roots, a very natural motion which helps strengthen all the muscles of the foot.

– firms up core:  the body is constantly adjusting to balance and uneven landing surfaces, and this translates directly to a strengthening of the core muscles.

– softer landing:  As compared to pavement running, trail running provides a much softer overall landing experience, reducing stress on muscles and joints.

– great scenery:  It is not uncommon to see a wide variety of wildlife while on the trails, making it very interesting and enjoyable.

This type of running certainly promotes a more mid-foot style of running, as you are on your toes in many instances.  Also, it is important to take shorter steps on the trails, so no one stride puts you in danger of losing footing or balance.  One article I read quoted a veteran of the trails who said that when coming upon a particularly rough section of trail, where you are unsure whether to take one step or two, take three.

As with beginning a road running program, take it slow on the trails and gradually increase your distances.  Perhaps start by running off the side of the road on your pavement runs, or find a rail trail or similar surface.  Be aware that occasionally stumbling and falling are part of the landscape, so to speak, so don’t be discouraged if you trip.  Keep to a mid-foot style, pick up your feet more than usual, and you will soon be hooked on all the enjoyment the trails provide.

-Michael