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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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!