China Camp Trail Race Report: Things I Wish I Had Known

Yesterday I ran Inside Trail’s China Camp Trail Run, my first trail half.

The course was good! The temperature was in the 80s but the course offered lots of shade. It was mostly single track trails with a few friendly mountain biker sightings. 1.5 miles into the race there was a nice steep 500ft climb.

As a beginner trail runner I want to share with you a few tips that I wish I had heard before the race.

Keep your eyes down and your feet up

In road races, I never really felt the need to look down much. I quickly learned I needed to change that habit. In this race I stubbed my toes numerous times, including one where I completely ate shit and my water bottle I was carrying fell down a 20 foot ravine (I climbed down and retrieved it).

I ended up swiveling my watch around and wearing it backwards to keep me from looking at it too much to lessen the risk of tripping.

Your road pace is not your trail pace

Leave all expectations about pace behind. On my Suunto watch I ended up only using the total elapsed mileage and the heart rate metrics.

Walk up hills

This is super important. As a road runner I wanted to race up the hills, but the hills in trail races can be way steeper than those in road races. Even walking up the hill, my heart rate was the same as when I ran down it.

Tell people if you’re about to pass them

On single track trails, let people know before you pass them. It can be startling to have someone pass you so close.

Also, encourage people you pass and people who pass you! (in either direction)

Write landmarks on your wrist

I wish I had done this. In a road race there can be hills but they don’t cause your strategy to change much. Instead of trying to rely on my faulty memory of where the big climbs and accents were, I wish I had written them on my wrist like this:

I found a YouTube video that goes over some of the points I made here and more. Happy trail running!