Friday, November 25, 2011

RNUTS 2012

     I love shifting gears. Especially at 30 mph on a bicycle heading down a mountain. One movement of the thumb puts a whole new range of speeds firmly in my control. Now that the 2011 Drumstick Dash is history, I can lay my 2011 road race season to rest and shift my training over to a new gear. That new gear is going to be the 2012 RNUTS series of trail races.

     My 2010 and 2011 race schedules had a lot in common so I made some significant changes for 2012 in order to avoid the monotony of just doing the same thing every year, year after year. One change I don't anticipate ever making is eliminating the RNUTS races from my agenda. The transition from road races to trail races is perfectly timed since many of the area trails are not going to be seeing as much recreational use over the next few months and that leaves them wide open for us outdoor enthusiasts to train on.

     Not only does this trail series do an excellent job of showcasing a large number of the fantastic trails in the Roanoke and surrounding areas, it gives the local running community something to focus on during a time of year when many areas have little to offer in the way of road races.  I will have to direct you to the Mountain Junkie website to learn more about the individual races and the series in general, but here is the 6 race schedule:

       Shifting gears from training for road events to trail events is not difficult, but it does require some preparation. One thing I have found is that the relationship between speed and terrain is much more of a factor at trail events. This area in particular has very technical trails and if the sharply contrasting elevation changes don't slow you down then the rocks and roots should. So I'm prepared to give up some speed.

     Another thing I'm preparing for is the development of athletic skills to replace the speed. These races are no place for a smooth even stride. We run, yes, but we jump, leap, maneuver, and use strategy too. So I'm prepared to put a lot of focus into increasing my coordination,  flexibility and dexterity.

     I run trails as part of my weekly routine year round, but I will be kicking up my trail running intensity and since I usually run solo I'll need to be prepared for a lot of things that can happen. I need to be sure to let people know where I am going to be. I'll need to watch out for wildlife too. I've never had any problems with deer, squirrels, snakes, bears or possums, but I have seen each of them more than once and I am prepared to see them in the future. Fortunately much wildlife is dormant during the peak training months for these events, so wildlife will be much less of an issue.

     If any readers of my blog are looking for something fun and active to focus on for the months ahead, consider giving the Mountain Junkie events a try. The events can be done individually or as part of the RNUT series and many actively encourage walkers/hikers to participate. The race directors, Josh and Gina, put a lot of effort into making the events a positive experience for the trail running community by doing trail maintenance, adequately marking the courses, providing good quality and ample amounts of post race food and appropriate door prizes...including my Garmin 305 that I won at the 2010 RNUTS banquet.

     For more information, please visit the Mountain Junkie website for all the details.

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