Pennal Super 7 Trail Run – When will I Learn?

Many of my friends were planning a trail run in Pennal Forest on Sunday morning. I would have joined them but they weren’t starting until 9am and I wanted to be finished by then so that I could swim in the pool in Machynlleth. However, Shem had marked out the route with little yellow markers though and I was planning a longish run on my own so I thought I’d try to find my way around the forest on my own following Shem’s arrows.

I’d been avoiding trail runs since spraining my ankle again a few weeks ago, but I had commented to Anna earlier in the week that I’d managed to do a kick set in the pool without my ankle hurting so I was hoping it was on the mend. I drive into Pennal and got there by 7:30am and set off on the run. I ran up to the forestry for the start of the Pennal Super 7 trail run and then took the long climb up the fireroad to the top of the hill. I was taking it fairly easy, but feeling OK. The route then turned left and onto an uneven, wet, slippery bit of single track. Within about 100m though my ankle gave way and I fell over on it. It hurt a fair bit but once back on my feet I was able to hobble on and after a while the pain subsided. I was now being extra cautious though so the going was slow over such terrain. In places I was virtually sliding down the muddy banks on my bum, quite how people manage to run properly over such terrain I’ll never know. It was all I could do to stay upright.

The rest of the run was over similar terrain for most of the way. I managed to miss one turning I think though and ended up running up a narrow gulley and through a stream. This actually cut off a bit of the trail I should have been on, shortening the distance, but the way I should have gone was along fire-road so although my way was shorter it was also a lot slower.

I managed to go over on my ankle a few more times during the run, so I think I may have finally learnt my lesson. I don’t think I can blame my shoes, although maybe a decent pair of trail running shoes would help. Instead I think I’ve simply come to the conclusion that my ‘wimpy’ ankles just aren’t built for trail running. All it takes is a tiny rock or root to slightly suppinate my ankle and that’s it, it gives way and over I go, tearing ligaments in the process. Even the smallest unevenness underfoot has my ankle collapsing and down I go.

I’ll have to do some ankle strengthening exercises I guess, but in the meantime I think I’ll just have to stick to more suitable terrain. Trail running is fun, and getting out in the hills and forests is always good. The mud, the puddles, the cuts and scrapes are all part of the fun, but tearing ankle ligaments is just a step (or should that be stumble) too far. It’s a shame really as the terrain around here is perfect for it, but my lack of descending skills and my weak ankles just mean that trail runs aren’t actually much of a workout for me. I have to take it so cautiously that I can’t actually put any effort in. It’s all good fun, but it’s far too easy.

I managed to make it back to the car though just as the others were about to set off. I then went to the pool for a quick swim, followed by an afternoon on the sofa with an ice-pack on my ankle.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar forComment Author mum says:

    I guess because your tendons are too short/tight and therfore can only walk on your toes, you have no muscle strength in your ankles to support it over such terrain.
    Sorry my fault 🙁

  2. Avatar forComment Author shem says:

    Such a shame AL, its trail running thats got me into running and now I love it. I hope you partially enjoyed the steep slippery down hills. I use a pair of Salamon speedcross 3 for that kind of terrain and the grip is amazing. Full sprint on those single track down hills is a great feeling, 😀 get well soon

  3. Avatar forComment Author Alan says:

    I will take a look at some trail shoes next time I’m in a big city (or somewhere with a decent shop), but although my shoes weren’t ideal I don’t think I can blame them really. It’s more the fact that my ankles are the skinniest, weakest ankles in Aberystwyth and that I run on just one tiny little part of the front of my foot… If you look at my running shoes I literally wear out just 1½ rubber knobbles on the outside edge of each foot and nothing else. The rest of the sole looks as though it has just come out of the factory…. 1½ little ‘knobbles’ is never going to provide any traction.


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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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