One of the main reasons for spending the season out here in Chamonix, France was to indulge my hobby of trail running. I’ve always preferred trail running to road running since starting out about 6 years ago. I guess it’s because I also love mountain biking. The fresh air, traffic free/people free trails, bird song and being in the weather invigorate me – just look at the view below from the top of one of my fave runs…
I recently spent 18 months with no trail running. I still ran but it wasn’t the same. I found I had to run with music to drown out the traffic – when I run on trails, I love to be connected to my surroundings so don’t usually run with music. I didn’t find that total relief and relaxation I find on a trail run.
Chamonix has some fantastic trails. As you can imagine, being in the heart of the Alps, there’s a lot of gradient involved! The trails here are also quite weather proof – they are rocky and rooty but only occasionally muddy. The views are stunning to say the least, the air is completely fresh and I always feel 100 times better after running than before.
I’ve gone from feeling like a hippo, barely able to walk up/down some of the trails when we first arrived to feeling like a gazelle, light and free, hopping, skipping and leaping my way along them!
One of the most exciting times was running in a thunderstorm a month or so ago. Not always recommended but I was desperate for a run that day – I could see a thunderstorm coming up the valley and decided on a short local run. This way I could get back home should the heavens open up – and boy did they open up!
I started off with boiling temperatures, quite humid for the mountains but dry as a bone with thunder rumbling in the distance. As I climbed the mountain trail thunder clapped above me and the air had an electric charge to it – the storm had circled around and was coming in from all directions. My trail wasn’t very high and I don’t think I was too much at risk from being hit by lightening or a falling tree!
Big drops of rain occasionally sploshed on my arms reminding me that rain was not far away. As I approached the end of the trail which drops down savagely with a rooty, rocky descent, the rain came. I was soaked immediately but as I was only wearing a lycra top and shorts it didn’t really matter. I was back home 10 mins later and was having a stretch, looking down the valley when the rain suddenly doubled its volume. Wow – glad I made it back before then but you know what? It didn’t really matter because I would have loved the run regardless.
This is why I like trail running in general but absolutely love running in the mountains. I am planning to pick up my long runs again (after a couple of weeks resting after the Swiss Alpine Half). I am looking forward to spending hours on the high, technical, singletrack trails of the Chamonix valley – doing what I love to do – run!