Category Archives: Trail Run

Book Review: Born to Run

Born to Run Cover

If you’ve not heard of the best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen you might be want to double check that you are a runner with a network of runners.  It seems every runner on the web has written or talked about Born to Run, so why not me?

Well I haven’t really wanted to spend the money and who wants to be part of a fad? That all changed a few weeks ago.  We had some time to kill and decided to go to a book store.  We were already in Uptown so we checked out Magers & Quinn, a great Minneapolis treasure. I walked out with four books, all purchased below their market price.  Born to Run was the only new book, the rest were used.

I was getting bored by the other book I was reading and wasn’t sure if I’d make it through the 282 pages with only 2 weeks left in the month.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised that the book was a super-easy read and I finished it with time to spare in March.  I was prepared for a book like Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods where it was story mixed in with a lot of random facts/rabbit trails/personal issues.  McDougall’s is almost all story.  Much of what I had heard about the book led me to believe it would be a treatise on barefoot running and a lot of research to back up that perspective.

It is actually pretty late (chapter 25 page 168) in the book before McDougall really starts to present any heavy research and opinions on barefoot running.  And it does make you think.  For obvious reasons I really liked this quote on pg 201:

Once PF [plantar fasciitis] sinks its fangs into your heels, you’re in danger of being infected for life. Check any running-related message board, and you’re guaranteed to find a bunch of beseeching threads from PF sufferers begging for a cure. Everyone is quick to suggest the same remedies – night splints, elastic socks, ultrasounds, electroshock, cortisone, orthodics – but the messages keep coming because none of them really seems to work.

Isn’t that great! Most of the book is about the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico and how they run for days eating only pinole and wearing thin pieces of rubber (known as Huaraches) and never seem to get hurt.  In fact when some of them receive and start wearing running shoes they ended up getting hurt shortly thereafter.  The main emphasis of the book is a race held in Mexico in which Scott Jurek, Barefoot Ted, and a few not so famous runners take on the adventure and challenge of a 50 mile trail race against the Tarahumara’s best runners.  I won’t tell you the ending!  The book spends a lot of time providing the back story for each of the runners and how the Tarahumara became known in the US running world.

McDougall also takes a section of his book to look at the evolution of man and how we evolved into runners.  This quote made me laugh (pg 243):

To be fair, our brain knew what it was talking about for 99 percent of our history; sitting around was a luxury, so when you had the chance to rest and recover, you grabbed it. Only recently have we come up with technology to turn lazing around into a way of life; we’ve taken our sinewy, durable, hunter-gather bodies and plunked them into an artificial world of leisure.
So with that I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Born to Run, it alone may not convince or me to go barefoot but it is an excellent story about “A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen”
If you’ve read the book what are your thoughts on it?  Would you rather borrow mine instead of purchasing it?
[tags] book review, Born to Run, barefoot, barefoot running [/tags]
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Video Friday

Earlier this week I did a run on a flooded Pike Island.  Here are two videos that I created from that adventure. The first is a short “remix” and the second a longer one. If you are prone to seizures or vomiting you might want to skip the second one!

[tags] Pike Island, Fort Snelling, Minneapolis, Running Routes [/tags]

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Marathon Recovery: Week 1

National Football League

Image via Wikipedia

After the marathon, my legs and body were pretty sore and beat up!

I really enjoyed this quote that @runtowin posted on Twitter.

“I felt like I played in a very rough football game with no hitting above the waist.” — former NFL DT Alan Page after a marathon

I actually saw Alan in the early miles of the marathon playing his tuba! But everything above the waist felt great, while it hurt to walk around!

I did find that the more I walked around the looser and better my legs felt.  But if I sat too long at my desk I’d get really stiff.  I got a massage on Monday which helped my walking since it loosened up the calf and hamstring muscles.  Tuesday was feeling better but still a little stiff.  By Wednesday morning I was feeling almost normal again and decided to bike to work.  I biked a total of 8 miles and felt pretty good.  I tried to take it nice and easy and not push too hard. On Thursday I rode to work again and had Christy meet me afterwards for a casual ride to enjoy some of the changing leaf colors and enjoy the nice weather.  We ended up riding almost 18 miles! Friday I left for a work retreat, we went just out side the metro-area to a beautiful YMCA camp and spent most of the day inside. But on Saturday we did a high ropes course 30 feet in the air! It is amazing how much energy can be expended on a ropes course.  I had brought running clothes but didn’t wake up in time to run before breakfast.  I finally got around to running on Sunday.  I had planned to go running at Pike Island, but on the way there decided to try a new place.

I had a vague idea of where I was supposed to be going to get to the start but it is a little confusing of an area.  I hadn’t brought my cell phone which has Google maps built in, so I was pretty much just guessing!  I wanted to go to Sibley house and run those trails, but instead ran along Crosby Farms.  When I got back and looked at a map, I realized my mistakes, but this was still a nice 5K run.  I actually ran on the river bank for a little while before running on a dirt/sand trail and then using a paved path to get back to my car! It was a nice, scenic, and refreshing first run back.  I was in no hurry and finished in 25:22. I was a little stiff at the beginning but it worked itself out by the end.  My legs are still a little tired!

Weekly Mileage:

Running – 3.1 miles

Biking – 25.8 miles

[tags] Marathon, Crosby Farms [/tags]

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Pike Island’s Trails

I would take a nice trail run any day over running the roads.  Trails are my friend as this picture so elegantly shows! It is a little hard for me to hit the trails very often since we only have 1 car and I prefer to run in the mornings.  However, Pike Island is easy to get to via public transportation and even via bike.

Part of Fort Snelling State Park, Pike Island sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers just south of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  On Pike Island itself you have a variety of options for running. See the maps here.  The easiest is a 5k loop around the outer edge of the Island – but there are little cut through trails to make 1 and 2 mile loops.

It is pretty scenic as you run along the rivers.  I think every time I’ve run there I’ve seen some wild animals – deers, squirrels, rabbits, but no pine martens! The trail is very flat and actually pretty wide too.  It might narrow down in places but is wide enough to mostly run 3-4 wide throughout. The trail is a mix of soft surfaces but is pretty safe for the ankles and has no technical elements to it.

Another great thing about this run is that it can easily be extended.  Want to go really long? You can head north up to Minnehaha Falls and connect into a variety of trails from there, although this is a paved trail.  More of a mid-distance run, you can run around Picnic Island and Snelling Lake.  Part of this segment is on pavement, but most is still trails and Picnic Island has grass stretches. You can also connect with bridges (with pedestrian lanes) that cross either river and connect with trails on the other side.

I enjoy running at Pike Island and have used it in the past to recover and reconnect with my reasons for running.  The worst thing about running here is that it is so close the MSP Airport, with almost continual flights over-head.

Parking Note: You must pay to park if you enter through Fort Snelling State Park. It costs $5 to enter the park or a valid State Park Permit. Then follow the main road to the Visitor’s Center.  However, if you enter from Historic Fort Snelling on top of the bluff there is no charge for parking.  Park in the main lot and run towards the fort and then follow the trail down the hill to Pike Island.

There is also some interesting history associated with this area:

To the Dakota [Native American tribe], Pike Island in Fort Snelling State Park was and is a sacred place. It is where the waters of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet and the Dakota believe it is the very center of the earth and arguably the place where Minnesota began.  WCCO

During this time[Dakota War of 1862], more than 1600 Dakota women, children, and old men were held in an internment camp on Pike Island. Living conditions were poor, and disease struck the camp, killing more than three hundred. Wikipedia

Despite the mixed history I enjoy running here, what do you think?

[tags] Pike Island, Fort Snelling, Minneapolis, Running Routes  [/tags]

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I Miss Trail Running

Reading this post over at Bad Ben Rambles, reminded me of how much I actually miss trail running. Before moving to Minneapolis we lived really close to Mounds State Park which provided great trails to run on. You had the basic 5 mile loop and a 3 mile loop with a variety of others. You could always figure out some combination of loops and segments of loops to create the perfect run distance. There was also almost always somebody to run with while there too.

While I miss those aspects, I also miss the softness of the trails. I’m really tired of pounding the pavement but it isn’t as convenient to get to real dirt trails around here. On Bad Ben’s scale I was definitely falling towards the “bad” end of the pyramid – addiction and now sadly I’m going the other way I’ve only done one trail run since we’ve been here and it was actually on snow pack, not dirt!

Hopefully as things warm-up I’ll be able to do some long runs on trails or even go race some trails. Minnesota has a trail running series. I might check out some of their races throughout the summer.

On a side note I was able to run on trails over Easter weekend.  While we were at family’s house in Indianapolis I was able to do almost half of my 14 miler on trails at Fort Harrison State Park.  It felt great – hills, mud, and good stuff!

[tags] Trail Running, Minnesota, Indiana [/tags]