The Moonlight Odyssey Trail Run at Hardwood Hills was a great introduction to night trail running. I had been doing some night training runs leading up to race day, but it was mainly on a golf course that had paved golf cart paths. There was nothing like this at Hardwood Hills. It was a 6 km course of primarily single track mountain bike trails with some open areas for passing. Despite heavy rain the day before and the morning of, the course was pretty good as there was a sandy base which allowed for a lot of the water to drain away. That is not to say that there weren’t puddles or “squishy” sections- because there were, with slippery rocks and roots to go with it!
I ran the 12 km race so I had to do 2 loops of the course. During the first loop there were other runners with me at various times which helped provide more light as we all wore our mandatory headlamps. On my second loop, I saw just one other person briefly as I caught up to him and passed him. The rest of the time I was running by myself through this dark, unfamiliar forest. Of course, a lot of different thoughts entered my head… “Am I going the right way still? Are there bears out here? If I fall and sprain my ankle, how long will it take for someone to find me? What was that noise? Again… Are there bears out here?
Despite the somewhat crazy thoughts that may pop up in your mind, it critical to maintain a high level of mental awareness in order to complete a night trail run safely. A good portion of the race is spent with your head down, trying to figure what exactly is directly in front of you. It is different from a road race where you can look ahead and focus on some point in the distance. If you look too far ahead in a night trail race you will certainly miss the next rock or root that is front of you. You may stub your toe causing a black toenail (sub-ungual hematoma) or you may trip and injure just about any part of your body from head to toe. Cuts and bruises are common in addition to ankle sprains and twisted knees.
If you’re a novice trail runner, you likely have questions about the best ways to prepare for a big race like this. After all, navigating tree roots and hidden rocks puts the feet to the test and injury is a possibility. Many people do not incorporate foot stretches into their pre-run routine. However, the feet are under extreme pressure with every step and must be warmed-up properly to give their best performance.
At Abbott Foot & Ankle, we believe that patient education is critical to a healthy foundation. That’s why we have created a video that demonstrates a series of basic foot stretches that will help you avoid injuries. Watch as we demonstrate the elastic band stretch, the foot roller stretch, the wall stretch, and the stair stretch. Keep your feet happy and ready to run by following this simple guide.
Chiropodist Tony Abbott understands the trauma that a runner’s feet endure. His own running experience and expertise as a foot specialist gives him a unique and priceless perspective. If foot pain has put your race schedule on hold, call our Collingwood, ON office today at 705-444-9929, or schedule online. Finish well—with healthy feet!