Rails-to-Trails Workout

 Last week we ventured out to Alexandria to workout on the Lower rail trail. The drive down 45 with all the beautiful farmland complete with Pennsylvania’s picturesque stone farm houses and rustic barns is always a treat. As we get closer we drive alongside Spruce Creek and past Evergreen Farm, the largest producer of milk in the state. It’s also where many US Presidents have stayed for some of the best fly fishing in the country. And I always make sure to catch a glimpse of the farms’ covered bridge that I love so much.  

The scenery is so nice that I almost forget that there’s a workout ahead. Just as we arrive at the trail head the sun starts to creep out, much needed on a typical April day. I’ve never been to the Lower rail trail in April, only in August when we take the State High cross country teams out for a pre-season long run and picnic. Things look and feel a little different at this time of year but I’m excited to workout here for the first time.

We get our warm-up and drills in before switching into racing flats for the workout. Strides complete the warm-up and we’re ready to go. The workout is essentially a long tempo with a few other elements mixed in. It’s definitely clear in the first few steps that the terrain is going to make this more of a challenge than a track tempo. It takes me about a mile to settle in and get into a rhythm. Once that happens I start to notice where we are for a few brief moments, the rushing Juniata river to our left, remnants of torn down railroad bridges, and farmland to our right. It’s definitely a different kind of focus than being on the track, and much needed since we’ve been doing this type of workout mostly on the track for the past few months. I’m still able to zone out, it’s just slightly different having new things to look at here and there. All and all it made for a harder workout than the track but ends up being one of my strongest workouts yet.  My training has definitely stepped into another level as I’m logging longer workout sessions and handling the volume pretty easily.

My next race will be at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford next Sunday. I was originally going to open my track season with a 5,000 at the Mt. Sac Relays but I had a very slight set-back with my calf about a week prior. I tweeked it a little and just didn’t want to risk anything. The timing couldn’t have been worse as the 5k at Mt.Sac ended up being incredible. My calf feels ready to go now so instead of running the 10k at Cardinal, which was the original plan, I’ll run the 5k. I’m really interested to see what I can do off of such a big build-up of mostly strength work and very minimal speed work. One thing for sure is that going to California and getting out of  this cold, rain, day after day, will be a huge boost.

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