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The Trail Running Book: Work in Progress!

Posted by on Sep 2, 2012 | 10 Comments

Earlier this year I started working on an ultrarunning book that took the form of the Squirrel Wipe project. After about 40 posts, I more or less stopped as my clinic and travel schedule picked up.The project has been in limbo for awhile.

I’ve spent several months talking to various people in the running community and assessed the need for another ultrarunning book. The response was lukewarm. People that already run ultras really don’t need a “how-to” book. People that are interested in ultras usually have a pretty good network of friends that supply them with the information. Also, they tend to involve themselves in the world of ultras as volunteers, crew members, and pacers.

I DID find there was a greater need for a more basic book about trail running. Because of that assessment, I shifted focus from the ultra book to a trail running book. So far, I have about half of the book written. I’m anticipating a finish date of October 1st with the book going on sale shortly after.

I’ll be taking the same basic self-publishing approach I used for The Barefoot Running Book. The initial version will only be available as a pdf. If sales are adequate, I’ll produce a dead tree version and ebook reader-specific version shortly after.

Since it’s still a work in progress, I’m open to topic suggestions. Non-trail runners, what information would you like to know about trail running? Trail runners- what information do you think is important for new trail runners to know?

Please share your input in the comments section!



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  1. HeatherW
    September 9, 2012

    Late to the party…. but I still think there is room for a book titled something like “Ultrasucking – the book for the other half of the pack.”

    Personally, in high school, I was cut from JUNIOR VARSITY soccer. If you were to ask about my “strengths” as a runner, the answer would be none. I’m pretty damn proud of how far I’ve come, but I’ve found that most of the ultrarunning resources are aimed at a runner with a lot more talent than I have.

    I’d like to read a book that covered stuff like:
    1) Asking to start the race early to avoid the cutoffs, and what to expect if I did that.

    2) What to expect if I DNF (handing in the bib, do I get a ride back to the start or do I have to walk?)

    3) Profiles of runners – not super fast ones – but ones that have overcome substantial physical challenges. I know a couple of people that were formerly over 300 lbs.

    Good luck!

    • Rain Wolf
      September 11, 2012

      can I use “Ultrasucking” for the new blog I shall now have to create?

      twice as awesome since I can’t actually answer any of those Qs

  2. Rain Wolf
    September 5, 2012

    Awww no! I was one of the ones looking forward to the book, even as I was keeping up with the website. Even without a need for an ultra book specifically (though another wouldn’t hurt my feelings), it’d be worth the price for the particular NWYAWAS skew on things.

    Ahh well. Perhaps some of the info could find its way to the trail book. =]

  3. Nick J
    September 4, 2012

    I have a few suggestions.
    -Winter running technique; Running in snow and on ice, use of crampons and snowshoes.
    -A dedicated mountain running section, with a nod to mountain craft for runners, a look at maybe running with poles, technique for scree running.
    -Choosing a good pack or bumbag, discussion on hydration, carrying water.
    -Clothing options for different weather.
    – A comparison of lug hight on shoes and what terrain this relates to.
    Good luck and I look forward to reading it.

  4. Bare Lee
    September 4, 2012

    Since so many come to trail running with road/track running experience, it might be useful to first list all that goes into road running, and then compare each facet side by side with trail running, the differences and similarities and subtleties in-between.

  5. David
    September 3, 2012

    I’m new to running and have almost no trail experience. It would help to have some basic trail etiquette explained. Also topics about changing from road to trail.

    -Passing and being passed on narrow trails. Should the slower runner stay on the right? Wait for the approaching runner to say something? Any nice ways to let someone know you are passing?
    -What to do when ‘Nature Calls’ and you aren’t close to a restroom.
    -How is form changed? Keep head up or tilted down and how far ahead to look?
    -Benefits of trail surfaces. Are they really easier on muscles, joints and bones?

  6. Ben W
    September 3, 2012

    Weather varies so much by region, but in Southern California, going into the mountains at altitude for any length of time requires some precautions to deal with sudden changes in weather. So, some safety advice would be good.

  7. Mark
    September 2, 2012

    Strategies and tactics — how is it going to be different than street running with respect to cadence, pace, etc. Help us manage our expectations! I know a “good run” for me on the street, how will it be different on the trail?

    I echo Jen’s and Ash’s comments…

    What gear to consider — clothing-wise — and how to carry the extras? what’s out there, and what guidelines should we use in deciding what is best for us?

    Best of luck!

  8. Jen
    September 2, 2012

    Suggested topics:
    – Uphill form
    – Downhill form
    – Technical footing (aka, how to avoid “kissing the ground”)
    – nutrition and hydration info (how much to pack for various distances)
    – what to do when you get lost
    – online resources on how to find good trail runs

  9. .:Ash:.
    September 2, 2012

    Kudos on this cool endeavor, Jason! You’ve probably already covered these basic issues. But, I’ll mention them anyway, just in case:

    -Difference between road pace and trail pace expectations
    -Maybe something to help people figure out what type of footwear is appropriate for the trails they run.

    That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. I’m looking forward to this book’s release!