What type of runner are you?

On Tuesday I decided to try an organized lunchtime trail run with some co-workers. Since I just started working here I didn’t actually know anyone, so I was eager to meet some fellow trail junkies. Nothing like finding a friend who shares your addiction.

The posting said “Guided Trail Run,” which immediately gave me a hard on. But it turned out not to be quite what I expected. I feel we need to break down each of these words.


In my mind, this meant that there was a high possibility of getting lost. My workplace is right on top of a canyon so I could totally see myself all mixed up down there (Note: This is exciting for me). I thought the “guided” aspect would allow me to see some awesome trails without actually getting lost. But to my disappointment, we were basically running in a straight line, turning around, and running back.

Even with my horrid sense of direction, I’ve never actually gotten lost in a straight line (knock on wood). So no real need for a guide. This is really nobody’s fault, but I do blame Noble Canyon for spoiling me and getting me lost on my first trail run in San Diego. Now I just want to get lost everywhere.


I have decided we need a new definition for the word TRAIL here. From now on, a trail is a place where I CANNOT run barefoot. Because it’s too rough and jagged and cars can’t drive there and people don’t walk it. THAT’S a trail from now on.

On Tuesday I went out in my Invisible Shoe huaraches expecting rocks and gravel and got a flat, smooth surface. I felt like an idiot for not coming barefoot. On the plus side, now I know I CAN run barefoot at lunch. But it’s not a trail.

We didn’t even go down into the canyon (I think there were trails there). We ran alongside the parking lot all AROUND the canyon without actually going down. For me, looking at a canyon and not running into it is cruel and unusual torture. I did notice some other people (not part of our group) going down into the canyon. They looked happier. So I think I might just come out on my own next time and seek them out.


I have to accept that not everyone runs the way that I do. Some people actually wear watches and keep track of their time. Not everybody stops when they see something interesting. Not everyone tastes leaves that look edible. Not everyone changes their pace whenever they feel like it. And some people stick plugs into their ears so they can’t hear me say interesting things.

The group I was with was aiming for a negative split. I was the only one without a watch and the only freak without shoes. I don’t know what my splits were, but I know the canyon looked fucking awesome and I never got to go down into it.

The guide said because I didn’t have a watch, I should just try to stick with someone. So I thought I would keep pace with the girl in last place, because that way I could encourage her if she needed it. In my mind, we were going to be best friends. But she stuck in her headphones instead.


I’ve seen some articles that come up with cool little lists about what type of runner you are. They give you a name and a description. I can’t do that because I’m slow – it took me 30 years just to figure out what type of runner I was. I can’t possibly write up a box for every other runner in the world.

But at least I can now speak for myself:

I’m a trail runner. And I don’t always wear shoes. I will always be attracted to the person in last place. I’d rather be the last runner who saw a cool thing that everyone else missed, than to be the speedy runner who won the race. I don’t particularly give a shit about negative splits. I don’t always know how far or how long I’ve run, so I estimate when I log a workout.

I like to run until I feel good. Then I like to keep running until I feel shitty. If there’s a stream, I want to splash in it. If there’s a tree, I want to climb it. I feel that people should look up more often from their watches to realize what a fucking beautiful city this is. And how amazingly lucky they are to run alongside a canyon over lunch.

I don’t talk much during a run but I hear everything. I’m not always the best conversationalist, but I do want someone around in case I spot something awesome. Like a bug.

Trail runners are incredible people. They’ll literally take the shirt off their backs and give it to you. Or pour the last of their water into your bottle. They’ll sit down with you if you need to sit. They’ll run when you want to run. Even if they JUST ran. They don’t care who you are, they’ll look out for you.

Trail runners don’t really go to scheduled Guided Trail Runs. They don’t really plan or schedule ANYTHING. They just make their own way into canyons and naturally gravitate towards each other there. Like magnets.