Since I began this most recent stint of running I’ve been almost completely focused on trail running. The trails I’ve been running are either nice gravelly hard pack or rugged trenched out mud tracks. I’ve been wearing hiking boots for both types of trail because of the cold and wet conditions, but the ankle support and grippy soles are nice too.
A couple of weeks ago on a relatively warmer night I ran a trail we call “the classic” with my street running shoes. It didn’t go well, in fact it resulted in an irritated lateral collateral ligament when I lost my footing once in the mud. Friday night the Behind the Yellow Club principals called the classic again and I was more than a little worried.
Recently the cold has broke and we have been greeted by 50 degree days so I was able to run Friday night wearing a long sleeve shirt and one layer on my legs. I decided to wear my new Merell Mykos Jet shoes that look like a genuine trail running shoe. Shaundo got these for me for Christmas and I’ve been eager to try them running. I also took my Garmin Edge and wore a heart rate strap out of curiosity. We had a special guest last night as well for a 5 man group. Just a quick reminded we’re closing the club at 10 members so if you want in you better hurry.
I started off getting a head start on the guys and as usual within 5 minutes they were on me. I tried to hold a decent pace but eventually started feeling it and let them pass. Eli and Adam passed me and yelled back I was responsible for the guest runner. I looked back and saw his light maybe a 100 feet back. In the next few minutes something strange happened, he didn’t pass me. In fact I was putting distance onto him. Then something even stranger happened, I began to catch up to Eli and Adam.
I started watching my heart rate and doing intervals, running hard and getting up to 175 bpm then recovering a bit and going again. I realized that I was running through stuff that I normally would be walking, I was bounding over rocks, bouncing back and forth across the trail and doing quite a bit of sliding. Thing was the sliding was a slow and controllable slide, not the running on ice feeling I got when I was out here in street shoes.
I caught up to Eli and Adam and eventually passed them by cutting a corner, they passed me back but I was able to stay with them, in fact I nearly ran over Adam a couple times. I began to get worried about our guest runner when I couldn’t see his light any more and turned back for him. Truth was I was probably nearing my breaking point. Our guest had made a wrong turn but we reconnected on the way back and returned to the trail head. I could feel my legs were very upset on the way back, but they didn’t fully let me know how ticked off they were until the next morning when I had a hard time getting out of bed.
I’m not sure how much difference the shoes made in my speed but I would swear they felt faster. They didn’t have the grip that my hiking boots have but they have enough grip. The soles of the Mycos Jet are very soft and flexible, especially near the front. There had been some trail work done since the last time we ran include a few patches of very chunky gravel. I could really feel the edges through the soles of the shoes. Compared to the hiking boots which feel like stomping through the forest the Merrells felt like bouncing through the forest. It could be that I’m getting better, or the mental boost of not being the last runner on the trail. Whatever it was I hope it doesn’t go away. Last time I tried run this trail I averaged 15 minute miles, this time it was 12.