This year, I decided to take my training to a new level while training for my next 100K. One thing I opted to do, was a nighttime long run on the trails. I figured it would be a good way of preparing for running over terrain in the dark and learning more about what works for me and what doesn’t.
This past weekend, I got the chance to test it out! Me and two friends (Adrienne and Fred) planned a run to start around 9pm and go as far as we could until 4am. We chose to run the Appalachian Trail. The plan was to run a 11/12 mile section of the trail out and back for as long as we could during that time frame.
We parked my car in Boiling Springs and the headed up to Mechanicsburg to get started. The temp was still fairly warm at 73 degrees. We had our head lamps, hand-helds and fuel. It took me a couple miles to adjust to the trail and wearing my headlamp.
This particular section of the A.T. is mostly flat and goes in and out of corn fields and wooded areas. It was neat and kinda spooky running through the fields in the dark. A few times we came out of the woods to an open field with low hanging fog. We tried to take pictures of it, but of course, they don’t do it justice.
One thing I’m sure you all have dealt with while being in the woods, in the dark and middle of the night….noises seem so much louder and more menacing than they really are. There were a couple of times when we were spooked by rustling in the trees and strange bird songs. One of the many reasons I was thankful to have company on this run!
We made it back to our starting point at 22 miles and it was about 2:30am. We all agreed to go ahead and finish the night off with a marathon. We unloaded our packs, grabbed some fuel and headed back out on the trail to do 2 miles out and back. My fuel ended up as a handful of gummi bears, bacon, a shot of Mountain Dew and some Gatorade!! 🙂 Lol Definitely not your typical running fuel but it totally worked for me!! As soon as we made it back on the trail, I got my second wind and felt surprisingly great! I’m pretty sure it was the sugar high, lol, but I felt like I flew through those last four miles.
Our night time trail run ended just before 4am with 5 hours 48 minutes of moving time….woot!