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The Chicago Chronicles: Training on Trails

Back in my Team in Training days we used to head up to New Paltz mid-season for a beautiful trail run around Lake Minnewaska. I’m a sucker for a good trail run, and it had been well over nine months (usually I can’t go more than just a few weeks!) since my last trail run. I couldn’t wait any longer.

I drove upstate with a few friends for the weekend and took advantage of the gorgeous weather. It was great to escape the city for a few days and not have to worry about traffic lights and cars and cat callers and noise and smog and all that other crap that comes with trying to do a long run (or really any kind of run) in the city.

There’s something so raw and therapeutic about a good trail run. It’s also much harder because the terrain is unpredictable, and you have to be way more cautious of your foot placement while at the same time being able to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the views were incredible.

When trail running it’s so much more important to train based on time on your feet versus mileage. Because of how hilly and unpredictable the course can be, you might end up on your feet so much longer than planned if you go based on mileage. For someone who is obsessed with numbers, splits and logging miles, it’s great to be able to just let it go and enjoy running for the sake of running.

When training for races and having very specific goals in mind, it’s easy to lose sight of the “why” while you’re too busy focusing on the “what” and “how.” Trail running always brings that back for me. It’s different, and it’s so important to just switch it up once in awhile and keep your feet guessing where they’re going next.

I’m looking forward to getting out on the trails again — and this time it won’t be nine months!

Erica Silbiger is a 10-time marathoner, having run her first marathon with Team in Training in San Diego on June 5, 2011. She will run the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 12, with her sights set on achieving a BQ. Erica is the Assistant Director of Admissions for the Columbia School of Social Work, and part of her job involves traveling around the country speaking to prospective applicants in the fall.

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