My Top 5 Trail Runs

I have had a very exciting time training during my second and third weeks back.

Resting HR is back down under 50, occasionally hitting 46, running is coming along in leaps and bounds.

I started last week completing about 3.5k out of a 7k run and finished with 6k out of 7k done and this week almost ran the whole distance. I am starting to eye off longer runs, and think about what I should be doing speed-wise for an upcoming 8k (Run for Hope Melbourne)

Nothing much else to report so far, my Ballet Boot Camp is still kicking my right piriformis in the…er, piriformis, plenty more work to be done there, but no pain when running or after, so that’s good. And I am starting to daydream about races and ultras again (more on that later).

This weekend I was lucky enough to get back out along the Two Bays trail down on the Mornington Peninsula. One of my favourites. I have been running the same flat, easy, asphalt route for two weeks now, in the hope I didn’t push too fast or too hard and injure myself coming back from my break, but I was going stir crazy. It is definitely time to mix it up a little!

It was very warm, 29 degrees at 7:30 – so I was worried I might encounter another couple of ‘friends’ that I saw at Noosa NP.

 I didn’t realise until I was actually out there that I had developed a slight fear of snakes – which I have never had before – and spent the first third of the run worrying about every root and black shadow I saw.

Luckily, about 3k in I saw the cutest little snake, probably only as long as a ruler and thick as my pinky finger, and he was SO cute that it actually stopped any further snake phobia in its tracks.

Mind you, this is Australia so that little fellow was probably a death adder or something, but I am happy to remain ignorant of that possibility!

 Later on, just before the turnaround at Boneo rd I saw this guy:

two bays kangaroo

 Other than that all I saw were some cows and a few older gentlemen out on a stroll, it was a very quiet 10 and a bit k’s, but I sure felt it the next day. Stiff shoulders, an aching core, legs that didn’t want to walk along the beach – trail running really does use so many more muscles than road running, and I’m definitely not ready to return to it other than the occasional run like this – I’ll try for once a fortnight until this race is done I think.

So to keep myself from randomly throwing money away on upcoming trail races I am not ready for I have instead researched a list of my favourite runs which, no surprise, are all trails. Some are used for races and some absolutely are not (the ‘trails’ at Perisher are actually mostly hills cleared for ski runs) but they are so much more interesting than boring old bitumen, as the Salomon Trail Race coordinators like to say.

 Top 5 runs

1. Two Bays – Sand, stairs, cows, snakes, little bridges, breathtaking ocean views, loooong – 28k from where it begins in Dromana to the end at Cape Schank – this run has it all.

two bays stairs          Two bays cows 

2. Perisher, NSW – this region is just plain beautiful, winter or summer. I love Alpine areas, great hill (mountain!) work, dead quiet – you likely won’t see anyone else out there – and you get views you won’t see anywhere else. I have no idea how many km of trails there would be out here, enough to seriously let you run all day though…

Perisher Reservoir A little trail leading up to Perisher Reservoir

Centre Valley & Perisher

Centre Valley & Mount Perisher – nice and flat, until it’s not!

link rd smiggin holes run

This is a little run I did a few years back from the Smiggin Holes carpark to a nearby dam. A few days later I went for a run/hike with my husband on his mountain bike and we got lost just after the 3k marker on this map which resulted in me taking him  UPRollercoaster ski run. He luckily thought it was a bit of an adventure and didn’t divorce me!

3. Mount Dandenong, VIC – Mt D is nice and close if you’re in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and not too far away even if you’re not. Great for a weekend hill run, there’s very little flat here, and if you’re really keen on hurting yourself you can always try and race all the other weekend warriors up the 1000 steps. The mountain is littered with trails that loop around and over each other. There are more than 4 ways to get up to One Tree Hill alone, so mix it up a little and you can easily do a long 30k hill workout.

4. Main Yarra Trail, VIC – another great Melbourne trail (and I do think Melbourne has many more than other cities I’ve visited, but then I haven’t been to very many places!)

It is easy to get to from the inner city or outer east, and boy is it loooong! Something like 36k I think.

It links to many many other trails and has a a lot of varied terrain, everything from asphalt to gravel to bridge crossings (but nothing technical).

Yarra trail

main yarra trail bridge

5. Sassafras Creek Trail, Sassafras VIC – another personal fave, although I have only run it once. This trail was a soggy, muddy, fallen-down-tree mess when I ran it two years ago in the middle of winter – and I loved it!

Technical single track for almost all the way you will have to climb over downed trees and look out for mud bogs and rivers that appear out of nowhere, but it was just divine. When run from Sassafras to Emerald it’s all downhill for 13km, but that didn’t make it easy. All the jumping and sliding gave me a massive workout and a few falls, so be careful!

And that’s it. I could add another handful and bring this list up to ten I am sure – Yarra Bend, Plenty Gorge, Cronulla to Clovelly along the beach (that’s NSW) – just for starters, but these five are real rave runs, if you get the chance to try any of them go for it, you won’t be disappointed!

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