Achievement (yet to be) Unlocked: Trail Running

I have not written anything since my account of my most recent major hike, The Talomo-Apo Megatraverse. Since then, I have scaled two more mountains: Mt. Palay-Palay in Cavite and Mt. Balagbag in Rizal. Both were minor hikes and both were mountains I have been to before. So, upon returning, I made sure to add a little more fun. Simply put, I ran.

Although I cannot yet call myself a trail runner, it is not a new concept to me. I sometimes run when I am on a hike and I am not carrying much. This is especially true when tackling uncomplicated descents, simple rolling trails, or when I am trying to catch up to others after lagging behind. (:P) But none of these is true trail running. True trail running cannot be simply defined as “running on a trail” – it is much more than that. It is a discipline. It is a sport. And it is one that I am beginning to know and appreciate more and more.

I know I said that trail running is not just running on trails, but in reality, that is the simplest definition I could give. However, the operative word here is not “trail,” it is “run.” And that is not as simple as it sounds. Different trails offer varying degrees of difficulty and an assortment of obstacles.

Not being an expert at trail running, I cannot really give anyone sound advice or write a very informative article be it a how-to, a step-by-step guide, or even a list explaining all its benefits (see note). In fact, I do not think I should be writing about it at all. But it interests me and I will talk about things that interest me all I want. After all, I am just here to talk about my most recent fascination and my recent experiences. (Note: If you are really interested in knowing about these stuff, check these two informative posts from Zen Habit and Daily Burn.)

Last October 25, barely two weeks after completing the Talomo-Apo traverse, I joined up with some friends to hike up Mt. Palay-Palay (more commonly known as Pico de Loro). I have been to Pico two times before but this time it was a very different experience. We ran on most parts of the trail because three among us were training for an event.

The gang: me, Nica, Mark, Patrick, and Ro
The gang: me, Nica, Mark, Patrick, and Ro

Patrick and Ro are bona fide trail runners – that is to say they have been trail running for quite a while and have joined several competitions (even winning some of them). Nica only recently started but she has also joined a few competitive events and even came out as champion in one. [Insert private joke here. :P] Mark and I were not just there for the heck of it, though. We are both starting to get into the sport and are intent on joining trail running events pretty soon. Our hike-slash-run in Pico was my test drive or tryout, so to speak. [Off topic: we relaxed on the beach right after!]

It was intense. I was convinced to give trail running a real shot. After all, it is in my bucket list so I really have to do it.

Thankfully, another opportunity to go trail running presented itself just this weekend. Nica, Patrick, and Ro are all joining a 30-kilometer race in Benguet this coming weekend. Thus, they all need some training. While Patrick and Ro took on the seemingly endless, rock-laden trail of Mt. Tapulao, I accompanied Nica for a short but intense run-slash-hike in Mt. Balagbag. [Off-topic: After Balagbag, we ate some amazing Thai food and then watched Big Hero 6 – awesome!]

Nica and I on top of Balagbag

Going up, we did a run-hike-run routine. This is important and is needed even by seasoned trail runners. I think no one in their right mind would run all the way up a mountain. Normal people would require rest, and when running, rest comes in the form of walking. It is completely normal and even advised to slow down to a hurried trekking pace (or even a normal one) on the uphills to conserve energy and make up for it on leveled parts or downhills. That is exactly what Nica and I did. We ran most of the way down from Balagbag’s summit to the jump off point in Licao-Licao. Of course, we still walked some of the way – we were there just as much for fun as for training, after all!

Here are some more pictures from these two trips:

And with these two ventures, I crossed off another item in my bucket list! I will still pursue trail running, though. I have not proven anything yet. It is an achievement yet to be unlocked. 😉


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