This morning, as I was making my way down to London for the day, a race was announced at Kielder in January. I checked my training calendar, the distance worked out well, and I then spent the next few hours eagerly refreshing SiEntries, waiting for entries to open. I was bored on a train, alright?! This got me thinking though: I am never that eager to enter a road race. Only ever a trail race. So I started to wonder why, and now I'm making my way back home I thought I'd do a quick post on what I think one of the reasons is.
For me to do a road race, there has to be a goal usually. Something like going for a PB. I find the majority of road races to be quite dull, certainly a big city marathon where you often necessarily have to run through industrial estates etc just to get the mileage. Added to that, a road race is all about consistent pacing. If you look at the mile splits of elite runners, they're so precise it's unreal. The relentless nature of it, however, is incredibly wearing and pretty painful. For me, anyway.
Contrast that with a trail race (or a fell race, or an ultra). I don't need any more reason to enter one of those than "it's there". Any trail race is a good trail race (better a bad day on the trail than a good day in the office, and all that). There's far more of a battle between you, the runner, and the terrain, unlike in most road racing where I find that, for me, the battle is in my head: can I keep this relentless pace going for 3 hours (or whatever). The terrain one covers in a trail race pretty much rules out the need for that kind of thinking. Yes, you're probably going to hit a feck-off big hill and feel like your lungs are going to burst, but you're probably also going to find yourself flying effortlessly down the other side and feeling like you could go on forever.
I certainly like trail races that tend towards Type 2 fun; within the realms of my abilities, if it's the kind of thing to make my friend Owain exclaim "You're doing WHAT?!" (or something along those lines. Usually more sweary) you can pretty much guarantee I'll be signing up for it. It'll hurt like hell, but the bragging and the stories in the pub afterwards make it worthwhile.
To be fair, I did do two road races this summer that I quite enjoyed; the Hexham Half Marathon and the Tynedale Jelly Tea. I almost consider these to be honorary trail races though, given the course profiles. No consistent splits were to be found on Strava following those.
So, there you have it. Not a great deal of point to the post, just some boredom-fighting train musings.
As you were.