Geoff Roes: Ultrarunning is Dead (Read 851 times)

    Ohhhhkay, I throw a ****fit every time I accidentally inhale a bug while running on the road.  If I'm going to try trail running, maybe I will buy a motorcycle helmet with a good visor.  Spider webs? Shocked


    But seriously, I'll give it a try. maybe on one of the county forest preserve trails.  But not with the Skechers I run in. Those things collect rocks in the soles so easily.  A city in Chicago park called Horner Park, on Irving PK & California has a dirt trail, and I end up picking out a lot of mud & stones from the soles. Maybe the GoBionic trail shoes have a better sole configuration.

    Yes trails are nice, but there's also running around high school/college athletic fields, or on golf courses.  Less spider webs in the way Smile but yeah, it can get boring running a bunch of laps.

    Know thyself.


      I ran on trails all summer as a young XC runner, in high school and college. Not those California or Colorado highways, but the eastern kind of trail -- rocky, rooty, twisty, hilly, slanted-off-camber pathways through rhododendron and mountain laurel.  This was back before Garmins and all that, so I just had my loops: one about an hour, another 35 minutes or so, a longer one of 90 minutes. I'd say I ran 75% of the time on trails.


      My college team was in rural Western Mass, and we would run a different trail every weekend, up a different mountain (usually more than one), traversing ridgelines, long climbs, crazy descents. We would plummet like falcons, just let everything loose and -- flow. No one worried about getting injured because of course we were 19 years old and invincible. Workouts were on the local golf course or out on our cross-country course, which was rugged. Did this training on rugged terrain help us? Well, it made it fun -- does that count?


      All of this is to say that it's not like trail running is antithetical to racing shorter distances. The times I was running and racing my fastest over 5k and 8k were the times when I was running the most trails. (Of course they were also the times when I was hammering my hardest workouts and running for a team. Oh yeah, it didn't hurt that I was 22 years old, either, without a "real job" and family.)


      Nowadays I am pretty much a road runner, but it's more a function of convenience in a busy life and geography than any decision about training. That said, I'm running a fartlek tomorrow morning out on the local XC course. Gonna get my feet wet in thick grass and morning dew.

      running metalhead

        I'm working on it.

        Right now I have switched from roads to trails, heck, I even found a few hills worth this name here in this flatland.

        I am going to participate next year in a 50K (Veluwezoom Ultra) and I plan to do some more trails ultras or not.


        I think that I could do one "good" ultra per year outside of Holland (because of economic reasons) and the rest I cold fill in with local trails or trying to establish best times on given routes.

        When I run I feel like a swallow

        Because you are free like a bird?

        Nope, because of all the flies I eat.



          I think you need to make an important distinction between injury risk, and stress on your body.  Yes you can still get injured on trails, but you can get injured on the roads too.  Over time though, you'll see less stress on your body running on softer surfaces, and probably find you're able to run more.  (many people already were talking about their improved recoveries from trail runs vs road runs)


          For example, today's run for me was 5 laps around a park that we ran XC workouts in during college.  I was just feeling

          beat up, and if I needed to do that run on the roads, I probably would have taken the day off.  But I had this grass option available to me.


          Now later, when I get an over training injury because I ran when I should have taken more days off, someone like this Doctor could say "SEE! running on trails doesn't prevent injuries" because I ended up injuring myself, but I feel like I would get injured much sooner if I didn't run on the grass.


          Yes, those are different ideas.  I'm pretty sure the article was only addressing the second concept - that softer surfaces are less stressful on your body.  It's arguing that that runners have this idea that softer surfaces are easier on the body but that notion might not be true.  It seems logical that it would be but there's really no evidence to support it.  So, don't bother running on that strip dirt other runners have carved out along side the asphalt trail.


          As far as injury, though, I would say we're even talking about two different types of injury in this thread: "blunt force trauma from falling"-type injury and "stressing unused muscles so they become stronger"-type of injury.  I think BHearn was suggesting that my post-trail run sore ankles were an example of the latter.


          I don't know anything about off days.  Wink

          “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the fight in the dog. – Dwight D. Eisenhower


          My blog is JT Running DC.  It's awesome.


          Follower of Forrest

            I run about 33% trails and about 50% trail races.  I think a mix of trail and road is ideal for overall fitness and injury prevention:

            Roads: get your body used to a constant pounding, maintaining a consistent pace

            Trails: more variety of foot strikes and leg movements, run by effort not pace


            Another reason I think most trail runs are long or ultras is to slow down the pace...I ran a 10 miler trail race this year and it was real fast over technical stuff.  I'm doing a trail 5k next weekend and I am a bit concerned about my safety running that kind of a pace over roots and's nicer to slow the pace to a comfortable one and just go long.

            6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi


            A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man


            No more marathons


               I haven't fallen once on the trails. 

              Ha, me either.  In my last 30K trail race I fell 5 times in the first 5 miles.  Once is for sissies.

              Boston 2014 - a 33 year journey

              Lordy,  I hope there are tapes. 

              He's a leaker!


                I've switched from road to track. It only hurts for a few minutes Smile It's a lot of fun, though incredibly competitive.

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                  Ha, me either.  In my last 30K trail race I fell 5 times in the first 5 miles.  Once is for sissies.


                  Yeah, this pretty much describes me too Smile

                  It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.


                    If you don't fall during a trail race, you're obviously not running fast enough! Black eye


                      Have you switched from road to trail racing, from sub-26.2 to longer?  Reasons?  How has it worked out?


                      Yes!  Road racing became boring and luckily I stumbled (pun intended) onto a 7.2 mile single track trail race - loved it!

                      Reasons? You have to be "in the present".  I quickly realise when my mind starts to drift off - I find myself face-to-face with the earthworms and mushrooms Surprised .

                      How has it worked out? Can't ask for a better start to the day - fresh air, nature

                      I've accomplished two of my goals - running a 50K (StumpJump) and a 50 miler (Destin 50) when I turned 50.  StumpJump was great - Destin 50 was brutal - running across a slope for 50 miles...Cry - it was for a great cause, though.

                        Though I don't compete in ultramarathons (I'm not even sure the marathon is for me).  I have a passing interest in ultrarunning and trail racing, for whatever reason.  In a recent article, Geoff Roes wrote,   


                        There may be a few reasons for [the growth of ultrarunning], but I think the most likely is that a few of the key reasons why people like to run trails (less impact, more variety, to get to remote places) go hand in hand with running really far. In short, I think you have a symbiotic relationship in which the less impact and more variety allow you to run much farther, and the farther you run, the more remote places you can get to. Therefore, as trail running has exploded in popularity, it has fueled an even more rapid growth in ultrarunning, not because people are specifically wanting to run really far, but because trail running and running really far go so well together.


                        Just for discussion/fun, have you switched from road to trail racing, from sub-26.2 to longer?  Reasons?  How has it worked out?

                        I mostly agree with Geoff's article from about a year ago.


                        My initial runs were on asphalt. First race was a winter tri on snow and ice-covered roads, but that's probably not what you meant by road racing. Other than that, my races have all been trail or hybrid races, ranging in distance from 2.2 mi to 50mi. My races this year range from 2.2mi to 26.2 mi and 10hrs. They all have hills in them - some rolling courses, some uphill mountain trails. The challenge and beauty of trails, esp. in the mountains, makes me not want to consider flat road races.


                        Historically, I come from a hiking and outdoors background, so I enjoy being on the trails for hours. I also volunteer on trails (either construction like today or paperwork, like later tonight). It keeps me physically and mentally active in retirement.

                        "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                        Will run for scenery.

                          I think there's something to the logic of the OP quote.  (But "Ultrarunning is Dead" ???)


                          This summer I am doing my first and second Marathons ever : Leadville and Pike's Peak.  And I went on an amazing 27-28 mile trail run near Aspen (the 4 Pass Loop, OMG!).


                          I run in the mountains b/c I love it more than anything.  I'm not a racer - I like to enjoy every moment of my running.  I'm planning to run a (trail) 50k and toying with a 50 miler next year (when I'm 50).  But only if I can do it and feel good.  I have my doubts about whether a 100 is possible on those terms.


                          I don't dislike road running, but it doesn't thrill me like the great outdoors.  And I can't run nearly as far.  My longest paved race is 10 miles.  In order to motivate myself for a road marathon I picked Big Sur.  All the beauty of a trail with more O2 and less falling!


                          But, TBH, there's one other factor : pace. In an ultra, it's okay to be slow and even the best "runners" end up walking some.  In a road race, walking is (to many) a complete disgrace.

                          Stupid feet!

                          Stupid elbow!

                            I enjoy road "racing" and every moment of my running.


                            I'm not a racer - I like to enjoy every moment of my running.

                            And we run because we like it
                            Through the broad bright land

                              I enjoy road "racing" and every moment of my running.



                              Okay, let's be realistic. I enjoy road racing too, a lot, and there are definitely some moments of my road running where I'm not actually enjoying that particular moment. But I absolutely agree with your point.


                              First Trail Run,12.9.17

                                DaBurger says:

                                Yes trails are nice, but there's also running around high school/college athletic fields, or on golf courses.  Less spider webs in the way Smile but yeah, it can get boring running a bunch of laps.


                                There's a golf course up in Edgebrook (far NW Chicago) I was thinking of trying.  Isn't the only hazard the errant shanked golf ball?


                                There was a track near North Park College's stadium I used to run on.(South of Foster Ave.)  Good for timing miles.  It surrounded a soccer field. The things been closed for remodeling.  Grr.

                                2018 Races: 1/20/17 Lakefront Half Marathon, Chicago 2:38:10 | 2/10/18 Universal Sole Valentines Trail Run, Schiller Woods, Chicago | 4/28/18 Crazy Legs Classic 8K, Madison Wisconsin