Texas Trail Running

Being a trail runner in Texas comes with a different set of requirements. We may not have snow or subzero temps, but we have other things to deal with. Like, summer is 9 months long. Our weather is either hot, humid, drought, flood or a nasty mix of the first two with one of the last two. As such, running the trails down here is an experience all on its own. Here are a few things I’ve learned to deal with, if not love about running the Texas trails, most year long.

1. Being covered in spider webs is ok. Pulling them off your face, arms and even legs should be expected. If you are afraid of spiders or wearing their webs, stay off the Texas trails.

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2. Seeing Rattlers on the trail is cool, not frightening. If you’re lucky, they will coil up and rattle at you and not just book it into the bushes. Be ready to pull out your phone and take a pic! But DO NOT taunt or get too close. Those babies can strike fast, and be deadly.

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Local Rescue Ranger snaps a photo of a black-tailed rattler.

 

3. Until it reaches 90*, it’s really not hot.  We secretly (or not so secretly) laugh at other runners when they talk about how hot their 79* run was hot. And if you luck out and get in a whole run before it reaches 100* in August, be grateful!

Record Heat Scorches Texas

 

4. Humid means running with wet socks after 4 miles, a wet top after 6 miles, and looking like you jumped in a river after 12+ miles.  And please, below 60% humidity is DRY. Complaining about the humidity is expected and ok.

 

5. Trails have rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks. If there are no rocks, we might not think of it as a trail. If you are used to groomed, crushed granite “trails”, soft dirt single track or jeep roads, think twice before attempting to run on Texas trails.

A less rocky section of Government Canyon

A less rocky section of Government Canyon

 

6. To get in super long runs in Texas, be prepared to start after 6 pm and run well into the night. If you think you can get up early and beat the heat by starting at 6 am or even 5 am, be prepared to face massive humidity and fast rising temps. If it’s August, be prepared to regret your decision to start a long run in the morning by 8am.

After a Texas Night run in 2012

After a Texas Night run in 2012

 

7. Read up on how to handle chiggers and tics. It’s something all Texas trail runners will need to handle at some point. And if you don’t know how to remove a tic properly, READ UP ON IT BEFORE removing it the wrong way.

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8. The tougher you are, the more water you carry when starting a run. Starting your run sans water means you:

A) Have no idea how hot, humid and potentially deadly summer trail running is here,

or,

B) You lack sufficient arm muscles  to carry a handheld.

If you want to impress your Texas trail running friends, carry gallon jugs of water to a trail intersection for community use.

6-29-10 Boom smells jugs

 

All in all, running the Trails during a Texas summer and enjoying it takes a special personality and a lot of practice. I take pride in pulling the spider webs from my pigtails and wringing out my socks after a run, but if I’m not careful to keep my mind in check, things can go bad real fast!

 

 

There’s something special about Texas summer runs. The smell of hot dirt. The whiffs of Honeysuckle and Mountain Laurel, mixed with Oak Trees and Ceder. The hotter it gets, the sweeter the smells seem to be. The sun doesn’t hurt and burn as fast as it does in Colorado, but the heat here is more intense. And the breezes feel nicer.  Evening runs are especially magical this time of year. As the miles go by, my legs feel lighter and stronger because the temperature is dropping. Cool patches began to appear close to the dirt. Firefly’s come out.  And while I will always treasure the majestic mountains, I know there is something every special about the rugged, surreal summer night runs that are only found in Texas.21353_10151673194866382_466265730_n