It’s Friday, and I’m in love.
Not with crappy cell phone pics taken while running, but with Colorado. And with the West generally, actually. The dry mountain air, the piercing blue skies, the sun-dappled groves of Aspen trees. Le sigh.
When I woke up this morning, I knew I wanted to spend as much time outside as possible during my short stay here in Aspen. So I headed over to a local outdoors shop to get the scoop on trail running in the area.
A helpful employee pointed out some various options on a trail map. “This one, I ran it last week with a friend, it’s beautiful. About eleven miles, I think.” She paused. “It took us about three hours.”
Eleven miles? Three hours? I glanced at the salesgirl, who looked very fit. I knew I was going to have to, um, adjust my expectations if I wanted to run on these trails! And I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run straight through on them. I’d be riking: running + hiking.
I settled on a 9-10 mile route, tucked the map into my sports bra, and headed out. It was steep. And rocky. I ran what I could, and hiked quickly on the more technical stretches. Between the hills and the altitude, my heart rate stayed nice and elevated. Eventually, after a couple of miles of steep climbing, I hit a nice patch of single-track trails on rolling hills, which I enjoyed for several miles until it was time to pick my way back down the mountain.
All in all, I riked for almost two hours, which I think was 10-11 miles (I strayed a bit from my planned route to explore). It was a great workout and unlike my long run yesterday, I enjoyed every second of it.
And because I made up the word, I can make up some Official Riking Tips, right? 🙂
- Work hard. Aim for keeping your heart rate elevated and maintaining a constant level of exertion. Hiking quickly up a steep hill, or scrambling over boulders, can be just as taxing as running at a moderate pace on flat terrain. The key is to just keep moving. You’re doing a workout, not taking a stroll in the park.
- …but not too hard. If you’re riking, chances are you’re doing it somewhere scenic. There’s no shame in taking a quick break once in a while to enjoy the view! (Snapping a pic with your crappy camera phone = optional!)
- Keep your chin up. Running and hiking on gnarly terrain can be tricky – of course you need to focus on the ground in front of you to avoid obstacles. But remember to also pay attention to the broader landmarks of the area and take note of what you see. Because getting lost sucks.
- Be smart and safe. Bring water, a snack, a map, a cell phone. You’re not going to be setting any speed records on your rike so don’t worry about a small backpack or pouch weighing you down. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. If you’re in the mountains, an extra layer of clothing is a good idea too, as the weather can change very quickly.
Not sure if I’ll ever be badass enough to do a marathon out here, but I sure do love me some Colorado trails. Looking forward to another rike tomorrow! Maybe not quite as long though – oof, between yesterday’s 20 and today’s 11, I might be feeling it tomorrow.
Have a great weekend, all! 🙂