Spring Fever

For me, early spring has always been a time of anticipation, optimism, and excitement. The days feel long again, the sun shines down with an intensity that isn’t felt in the winter months, and everything and everyone seems to wake up and begin to prepare for what lies ahead. As much as I love winter, by this time of year I am always ready for the excitement of spring. This year is certainly no exception.

On a personal level I have so many things I’m optimistic and excited about right now. This is the first edition of a yet-unnamed, bi-weekly column that I’ll be writing here on iRunFar. I’ve always loved writing, but I have a hard time feeling creative and productive in my writing unless I have assignments to keep me in practice. I think having an assignment “due” every couple weeks will be the perfect dynamic to keep me in practice, and to keep some interesting ideas flowing from my mind to the keyboard. Or so we can hope.

I’m also at a place in which I’m more optimistic and excited about my coming months of running than I have been in quite some time. Despite having just completed a 350-mile race a few weeks ago, I feel as though I’ve had an extended break from running since mid-December, and I feel this is just what my mind and body needs. Almost all of the running I have done since December has been on snow, usually in snowshoes, at a very slow pace, and often walking. When I lace up the shoes and head out for my first post Iditarod Trail Invitational run sometime in the next few days, I suspect that running will feel more alien to me than it has any time in the last few years. With this unfamiliarity fueling me, I will get to come back to running in a place which best suits my mind, body, and spirit at this time, and not based nearly as much on previous ideas about what running is to me. I think of it as a chance to realign myself with my running, and this really excites me.

When I get back into the habit of running every day, I will undoubtedly begin to shift much of my focus to preparation for the Hardrock 100. I don’t know what’s more exciting for me, the notion of taking part in this event, or all the runs I’ll “need” to do to prepare for it. I’ve always preferred really steep, rugged mountain terrain. I think training on this type of terrain is a huge benefit, even for flatter races, but never before have I done a race in which the training that I like to do all the time will be the perfect training. What this all means is that I will likely spend even more time than usual high up in the mountains this spring and summer, and I’m nothing but terribly excited for this.

Looking beyond my individual situation, I think this is also a really exciting and optimistic time for the sport of trail running. The variety of events and athletes which make up the sport right now is so much greater than it was just a few years ago. The popularity of trail and mountain running is growing rapidly around the planet, and this is bringing together folks from so many different cultures, bound by a single passion for traveling on foot through wild, rugged, and scenic places. It is becoming a truly global sport and I think this is a very exciting thing. Whether you’re driven by the opportunity to compete against runners from around the world; in locations around the world; or whether you simply love to run in new and exciting places – and love to share that experience with like-minded individuals – it’s a great time to be a trail runner.

There are more events than ever to choose from that suit anyone and everyone’s tastes. Most of these events (either directly or indirectly) help promote sustainable trail/land use, and encourage or participate in trail maintenance and development. More than ever before, the popularity of trail running is fueling the creation of more places to go trail running.

I think it is also a really exciting time for the competitive side of the sport. As trail running has grown in popularity, so too have the amount of races and runners that are focused more on the competitive aspects of trail running. As more events distinguish themselves in this way, more runners are drawn in from road running and other competitive sports, as they realize they can have their competitive interests met doing something as natural and satisfying as running in the mountains. I have taken part in a lot of different sports over the years, and have had a lot of fun doing so, but not one of them has ever felt nearly as natural and satisfying as running on trails through the mountains.

There has been much speculation over the past couple years about what will happen as more of this “new breed” of athlete comes to the sport of trail running. Even now, you regularly see people debating the impact that top marathon runners will have as they are drawn into the sport by races with more prize money and more focus on high level competition. The thing is that this is no longer a thing of the future; this is a thing that is already here and has been here for quite some time. There are dozens of trail races offering more than a $1000 prize for the winner, including a few offering $5000 or more. These events have already led to the expected result of drawing some top road runners to the sport. It is no longer a question of what will happen when several sub-2:20 marathoners start running trail races, because this has already happened.

The result of all of this: Several really fast road runners have been humbled and awed by the ability of the “slower trail runners;” several really strong and accomplished trail runners have been humbled and awed by the raw ability of the road runners; and, most importantly, a lot of really exciting racing has occurred. Of the dozen or more sub-2:20 marathoners that have taken on competitive trail running in the past few years, I can’t think of a single one who hasn’t been beaten on the trails at least once, in most cases by runners whose marathon PR is 15+ minutes slower than theirs. Conversely, most of these road runners have run some very impressive races, and will likely continue to improve as they become more comfortable on the trails.

Thus, it is no longer a question of what will happen when trail running goes through these changes. The changes have come, and the sport has become more exciting and diverse than ever before. Things will certainly continue to grow and evolve, but this is no longer a thing to anticipate or fear about the future, it is here and now, and in its wake it has left a level of anticipation, optimism, and excitement beyond any that has ever existed in trail running. Or maybe it’s just the return of the warm, sunny weather that has me feeling this way.

At any rate, I am super excited to see where things go from here – both in my individual running and in the sport of trail running as a whole. Anyone else feeling this excitement?

Run Like Geoff Roes Giveaway

To kick of the new column, we’re giving away a “Run Like Geoff Roes” prize pack made up of my favorite trail running gear and nutritional products. To enter, just leave a comment on this article [on the website, not as an email] before the next installment of my column on April 11. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s what the winner, Megan of Run Aimlessly, won:

Call for Comments

  • What are you most anticipating as we enter spring?
  • What aspects of the sport of trail running are you most excited about at the moment?
  • Do you have a suggestion for a column name? If so, fire away! (We reserve the right to use any of the suggestions!)

There are 848 comments

  1. Blue Camp

    I am very happy to see Mr. Roes writing on here, his blog is one of the best ultrarunning ones I've found. He is a great addition to the Irunfar site!

  2. Brian Wilson

    "Anyone else feeling this excitement?"…I have already passed this article along to a few friends and am looking forward to the next installment.

  3. Sophia Lewis Robinso

    Apropos for spring, I anticipate rebirth and renewal: being a runner again after many seasons of injury-surgery-rehab.

    So excited following the increasing competitive fields at races. Interesting juxtaposition with the epic/meditative/spiritual nature of the training.

    how about

    Running Wild with Geoff Roes

    Making Trails with Geoff Roes

  4. Joe Hess

    I find that in the absence of writing I tend to take pictures. In the absence of pictures I write. Inspiration comes from within, and it will flow as it needs to. I look forward to running for a goal, and one of those goals is the ability to hike on the Appalachian Trail with my 7 and 10 year olds and wife. I need to be in extra special shape to carry the extra weight. Having been a runner for a number of years, then a cyclist and then a couch slug, and now a runner again I look forward to venturing off the beaten path into the local wilds of Pennsylvania. A new job brings a new outlook on life. As far as a name for your column "Running….a prisoner's dilemma"

  5. nelson

    Really like your writing Geoff

    Its so true about the rapid growth of trail running, including myself who is only 19 and have been running (started with trails) for 2 years now. I have seen new races pop up world wide with more ultras and way more numbers racing.

    Wicked proud to be part of it all the way from New Zealand.

    sweeet.

    Nelson

  6. Jan

    Thanks for inspiring thoughts. I’m Looking forward to the next article and also I wish good luck in forthcoming training and races. Either way, enjoy your trails.

  7. Paul Barbier

    I love the Spring, as everything begins to go green in North Wales where I live. Its full of promise and inspiration and time to test the winter trained legs. Summer is around the corner and the weather is so changeable at the moment, that everyday is different on our hills. One minute 20 C heat and the next snow all over the hills, then rain and wind… Amazing

    I am hoping to do a Paddy Buckley Round this year, a local mountain circuit, and also run the Lleyn Peninsula Coast Path at some point plus lots of other things.

    Geoff, thanks for the articles and your blog, its great to get inspiration from for sure. As for a title for the column, how about " On the run with Geoff Roes" or "Run for the hills"??

    Thanks again and keep up the great writing, this column and your blog. Have fun out there and good luck for the season

  8. Jeff Pelky

    Hola Geoff,

    Saw you at the Chuckanut 50k after event but was too timid to ask for a photo…shucks.

    At any rate, I look forward to reading more from you.

  9. Matt

    Spring in Southwest Florida is not much different than winter, which is in turn not that much different than summer. I may not have to wait for the snow to melt but there is a subtle shift in the feeling on the trail. Look forward to more articles like this.

  10. Just Adam

    Looking forward to your contributions here. I enjoy reading you perspective, and appreciate the candor. I as well am interested to see how the sport will continue to change with elite marathoner crossover, and generally growing interest/participation. This is my first spring as an ultra participant; been following for longer. Excited to get off my worn-out training course ,and enjoy some races.

  11. Niels Oomkes

    I occasionally make it into the mountains near Nederland, and always hope to catch a glimpse of other runners and of course Geoff Roess. I have enjoyed reading the blogs (ITI – simply amazing), and look forward to more here at irunfar.

    Thanks

    Niels

  12. Just Adam

    …(publish button a bit closed on phone)… And can't wait to get in some mountains!
    How about "Rhythm of Endurance", or "Real with Roes.". Keep healthy!

  13. Forrest Brown

    Look forward to the column. You've got a great sense for detail in understanding races and that North Face preview last year was just brilliant.

  14. Chad Brackelsberg

    I look forward to weekends of skiing peaks on corn followed by long runs on our dry trails. I am most excited about the advancements in nutrition that make running Ultra's more enjoyable. Call the column 'Roes Prose'

  15. Travis

    Geoff,

    Congrats on your race and thanks for sharing the details. One can't imagine a race such as that but you were able to give us all a glimpse of what running thru AK for 350 is like in winter! I look forward, as do many others, on future articles.

    Best of luck in your upcoming races in 2012.
    Travis

  16. Shari

    Every spring, I anticipate the melting of snow in the high country. This year, it is happening sooner than later after low snowpack in the rockies. I do worry about the wildflowers. "Single Tracks" may make a good name for a column.

  17. Jason Johnson

    It's always fun to take a road runner on some of the trails around here in Colorado. I get to learn a lot about pacing, HR monitoring, etc. and they get to learn about watching out for rocks! It is a similar dynamic between roadies and mountain bikers.

    Great having you as a contributor to IRunFar, Geoff. Enjoy reading about your insights.

    Hope you have a great summer,

    Jason

  18. Rudy Rutemiller

    Geoff,

    Your humble disposition always baffles me in the best of ways. I can imagine it's difficult to not get cocky. You're a true trail runner who does it for the love, and that's inspiring in and of itself. That's a column name? "In and of itself."

  19. Mark Berry

    Geoff, great perspective on the evolving sport of trail and mountain running. We've seen it in our community – Omaha, Nebraska. Several years ago, I tried to find a handful of folks interested in forming a trail running club. I even went as far as reaching out to individuals who have finished trail running events in the region; no such luck. This year, a friend set up a Facebook page and within four weeks, we have over 200 "likes", runs every day of the week at several different venues, and several dozen hard-core members (and papers filed with the state for incorporation).

    Looking forward to future postings.

    Mark

  20. Chris Peiffer

    I got back from Afghanistan last week and ran my first 100K, The Georgia Jewel 100K, last weekend, without the ideal level of preparedness because of being deployed. It took me 16 hours but I enjoyed every second of it. This is going to be a great year for running!

  21. Becky Darsey

    I am looking forward to beginning my experiences with trail running this Spring. I have been trying to map out some trails at local parks in order to get me started – and I made friends with the manager of the state park about 10 miles from my house. He has been extremely helpful in guiding me to the trails that are more suited for a beginner (not so rutted, etc)as well as which ones loop back and which ones are the heaviest traveled. So if I had any suggestion to make, it would be that – make friends with local folks who KNOW the trails! Take their advise, and get going!

    So since I am not currently very well equipped for trail running, winning this one would be super awesome!

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