Joshua Ebert

Trail Runner | Misadventurist | Storyteller

Tag: Trail Running (page 2 of 2)

Finding My Trail in Brooklyn

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As an avid trail runner, I decided to take on the challenge of finding trails to explore in Brooklyn. So I, of course, looked to Google to help me find suggested runs. The first thing I came across was the website for The Brooklyn Trail Runners, who happened to have a group run my first day in town. So here is a wrap-up of all my locally sourced, artisanal miles.

Sunday: The Brooklyn Trail Runners “bRUNch” (Strava Data)

This technically is not a run in Brooklyn, or even New York City, as we ran across the George Washington Bridge (GWB) to Fort Lee, New Jersey (Gov. Chris Christie was out of town so the bridge was open). After meeting at a restaurant in Manhattan we dropped off our stuff, made quick introductions and began our run crossing the GWB and connecting to the Long Path.

Long Path

The Long Path starts at the GWB and goes 357-miles to Albany, New York. The trail starts out wide and easy but as we ran up the river the track became more technical. My biggest complaint about the trail is how close it stays to the Palisades Parkway. It does have some great vistas as it winds closer to the cliffs.  We cruised out about an hour and then returned to the restaurant for some well-deserved food and beers.

One of the best aspects of finding a running group/club to run with for a day is you get a little insider knowledge about the place you are visiting. On top of that, you get to meet new and interesting people. I was not the only tourist in the group as a businessman from South Africa also joined us. It was nice to be able to talk to trail runners whose experiences have been wholly different from my own.

Monday: Prospect Park (Strava Data)

It was a straight shot of about a mile and a half to get to Prospect Park from my hotel. I burned up Flatbush Ave attempting to get away from the busy street as fast as possible. Running on the streets of NYC is more than just a physical workout, but also a mental workout. Constantly I found myself judging rates of speed, calculating if I could make the crosswalk in time and figuring out my path through the sea of other pedestrians. Once I got there, I was rewarded with a bit of a trail run.

 ProspectPark

The trail was not much compared to what I am used to but it was there. In this park where paved paths guide you around, people have been compelled to create their own paths. This says a lot about how people still desire that connection with the earth, the feeling of dirt under their feet. It all reaffirms that need for green spaces and what the mental health repercussions would be without them.

Conclusion:

I did not make it out for a third run, as I had hoped. I guess we can blame it on the many fine dining and drinking establishments of Brooklyn. The thing I took away from this trip is my continued love of exploring someplace new through running. Even when I was not running, I was walking and experiencing how people interacted with the city. It left me with a better understanding of how the city worked and how to navigate around. So next time you are somewhere new, I would suggest even in a city, unplug and wear down some of that shoe leather.

What have your experiences been exploring somewhere new? Have you tagged along with a local running club?

…But Are You Hearing Your Adventure?

But Are You

Popping in earbuds and going for a run seem to go hand in hand. A great up-tempo playlist will keep you cranking out the miles at a solid pace. I know that I really enjoy bombing down a technical hill while listening to the bombastic melodies of The Shell Corporation or Billy Talent, but on those runs am I really connecting with the natural world?

In the running community, the headphones debate will rage on for all eternity (or until implants replace headphones). I definitely see the merits of both sides of this debate because I have rules for whether or not a run is a headphones run. For me if I am running somewhere new, then I will definitely not wear headphones. Not only does it help me feel as if I am truly experiencing a place, but also it makes me more receptive to what is going on around me.

When I was visiting Portland, Oregon a few months ago I went for a short pre-dawn run (Like 4 a.m. pre-dawn) and started to enter an unlit park. As I started winding up a hill I started hearing voices and laughter coming from ahead of me. I stopped and moved into the shadows of some trees and waited. The laughter continued, like in a horror movie, but I could not exactly pinpoint where it was coming from ahead of me. Ultimately, I could not decide if those ahead of me were a threat or not so I turned and silently jogged back towards the lighted city streets. If I had been listening to my headphones I would have probably ran right into whoever was out there ahead of me.

I do listen to music though when I run around my neighborhood or when I’m alone in Umstead State Park. These places are familiar to me and I relatively know what to expect around each turn. For me these are the times when I experience the music the most, my mind focuses on the lyrics and the arrangements. It is during these runs that I use the music to tune out the monotony of a run I have repeated so many times (or road running).

One place I do not believe headphones should be is in trail races. I know, “run your own race”, but to me, it’s skipping out of a part of the race. The toughest battle you face on a run is in your head and music is tuning that out. I am not putting music in the same category as PEDs, but in my opinion, you are not facing the entirety of the run.

Another thing is you are shutting yourself out from meeting new and interesting people. The one thing I tell people about the trail and ultra community is that it is made up of some of the best people. I know one of my favorite parts of racing is getting to meet the people you are pacing with. I like hearing where people are from, why they run, and how they got here. I see us as a small interconnected community, so I value when I get to meet people of my same tribe. This is also the place where I can talk about my passion for ultra running without coming off as a bragging or getting asked the typical mental health screening questions that non-runners like to ask.

Finally, I’ve seen people blow through aid stations with their headphones on and “forget” to thank the race volunteers. DO NOT BE THAT PERSON! The volunteers having given up their weekend to support us and if you cannot be bothered to thank the volunteers then you don’t need to be out there. These people are as bad as those who blast music from a Bluetooth speaker as they run, go run a Rock & Roll Marathon you’ll fit in better there.

Sorry, it turned into a bit of a rant but I guess I have some strong opinions on this topic. Also after reading one of Mid-Pack Zach’s rants I was kind of inspired (he has a great running blog). Thank you for reading and feel free to comment with your opinion.

 

books title

When you are passionate about something you tend to collect everything said or written on the topic. Here I have compiled my top four books that cover a variety of fields that an adventure seeker should be familiar with.

 walker

The Complete Walker IV: When I was 18 or 19 years old I was a student at Penn State Mont Alto, which is right next to the Appalachian Trail. It did not take long for me to become infatuated with the trail and the people who walk it. So as I began to obsess over it, a mentor of mine, Rodney, made sure to put this book in my hands. He explained that it was the bible for backpackers and would tell me everything I need to know. The book, which is written by experienced outdoorsmen Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins, breaks down almost every aspect of backpacking. Some might be surprised that it takes 864 pages to explain putting your stuff in a bag and then putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, but the authors do not want their readers to be uninformed.

 Freedom_of_the_Hills_8th_ed

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills: If you could earn a college degree in standing atop the world, then this would be your textbook. Unlike many textbooks, this one is not some overpriced scam but a well-written textbook with excellent illustrations. This book condenses the knowledge of some of the most experienced mountain men and gives it to you in an easily digestible content. Even if you do not plan to summit Aconcagua, this book has valuable information for all those who enter the realm of mountains. Knowing how to read the terrain, weather and conditions are really important because, in the mountains, dangers are amplified.

 Relentless-Forward-Progress-cover-250x375

Relentless Forward Progress: Before I met my friend Ben, who became my ultra running go-to guy for questions, there was this book. Bryon Powell is the founder and editor of the website I Run Far and has made a career out of running ultras and covering ultra races. He is also an excellent example of someone who has made what they love into a career as he went from being an attorney to a running coach and journalist. In this book, he breaks down the science of running and includes essays from elite ultra runners in what works for them. He also outlines great training plans for a multitude of distances. I myself used his training plan when I ran the Leatherwood Ultra 50-miler.

 handbook

The Ranger Medic Handbook: This is the most expensive book on the list but also the most valuable in my opinion. This book is densely packed with lifesaving information. While it is geared towards a highly trained Army Ranger Medic, it is laid out in if-then-style flowcharts on how to evaluate and treat a casualty. While I hope your adventure does not include injuries caused by bullets or landmines, it also has practical information on how to treat fractures, concussions and variety of ailments you can encounter in the backcountry. Not only does it tell you the hands-on treatments for them, but also the correct medications and dosages for these injuries and diseases. Note: A few years ago there was a fake version of this book in the Kindle store and had bad information in it. Amazon has several versions of this book in different formats. I have included the link to the North American Rescue Products version, which is the version issued by the U.S. Army. The fact that this version is spiral bound and printed on more durable paper means it can stand up to the hardships of your adventure.

So those are the four books I recommend the most when asked about adventure. Did I miss any? Do you have any suggestions for future reading? Please comment if you do.

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