Sunday, January 6, 2008

Where I Run

I do all of my easy pace and MP runs in a County Park named Rancho San Antonio, located in Los Altos CA.


 It's a great place to hike, run, bike or just go walk around, as you almost always see some amazing wildlife.  Just in the past week or two I've seen a Bobcat (who seems to like to run on the trail always staying 30 yards ahead of me - I see him all the time), a group of wild turkeys (more like a herd), a huge turkey vulture (not at the same time as the turkeys - that might have been really interesting), and the usual quail, rabbits, and deer.  In the past I've also seen coyotes, king snakes, rattle snakes, and red-tailed hawks.  Like I said, you almost always see something.


I've included a few photos of the park, but you can see more Here.  (you'll also be able to see them at a larger size)  There's a section that includes I believe 73 photos and there are some nice ones in there.

The park is very close to our home, so driving isn't necessary - and that makes it MUCH more convenient.  I just leave the house, and less than a mile later I'm on one of the trails.  

The other thing I really like about this place is that the terrain is very hilly.  You can find some trails where the grade is only a few percent, (which is great for my longer runs) and others where there are stretches at 8%-15%  (great for short hill repeats)

Here's the elevation profile of the trail that I usually run:

This is a 9-mile run (elevation info comes from the Garmin)  The two "peaks" are the same trail, I just hit the hill twice.  From about the end of the first mile to about 3.35 miles, the grade averages close to 3% for the 2.2 mile stretch.  But the toughest part about this trail starts at about mile 2.6 to the top at 3.35 miles. This 3/4 mile stretch averages just over 5.5%, and it can sometimes get tough for me when I'm going back and hitting this hill the second time.

In my training log, (which I'll be posting soon) you'll see a lot of 6.7 mile runs - that's going from my house to the top of the peak and then back home.  On any run longer than 8 miles, I'm hitting the hill twice.  

I use this trail on most of my daily runs.  Like I said, I really enjoy running in the hilly areas.  Sure, the first month or so my calves or achilles would get sore, my pace would slow and/or my HR would spike a bit, but after a while, I just got used to it and now it really doesn't bother me at all.  And the benefits are huge.  Routinely running 5%+ grades has strengthened my calves a ton and it's really helping my faster efforts - not to mention that running on a flat course actually feels like I'm going downhill.  

The one thing I can't do on this trail is measure my effort based on my time.  You'd think that whatever I lose on the uphills I'd gain on the downhills, but that isn't the case.  Often times the trails are a little muddy w/ fallen leaves all over the place.  I typically find myself using extra energy to hold myself back on the steeper downhills to make sure I don't go rolling down the hill.  So I use HR to measure my effort level and adjust my pace accordingly depending on the particular workout.  Compared to running on a more flat surface, my times in the hills are usually about 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower for a given effort level.  

Lastly, these runs should lay a great foundation for my "real" hill workouts that will be coming later. . .

No comments: