in it for the long run (trail running & a lot of love)
Posted on February 01 2015
There are few things more constant in my life than my Saturday 8am trail runs with a fun-loving bunch of friends that I have lovingly nicknamed the #kiaratrailfairies. Derived from all ages, genders, races and backgrounds, we are bound together by an inexplicable need for a weekly dose of jungle , our (lack of) fear of snakes, mosquitoes and mud, as well as the stubborn refusal to look or act our age.
- So it is apparent that the people I run with are a huge part of the reason why I love it.
No one is out to get a personal best but only to make the best out of any combination of paths, elements and the company we experience on any particular run. We always wait for each other, we are always open to new people joining us. There is always laughter.
- Time flies when you are on a trail run.
Your eyes and mind are occupied on where your next step may land, how hard you are breathing, how fast that downhill bike rider is approaching, how those monkeys are staring at you, where the heck that tree branch appeared from as it whacks you in the shoulder, gah ran into another cob web, crap can't see Ash in front of me so I better speed up, slimy mud splashing on your legs, oh wow what a beautiful bamboo arch up front, wait, is that a leech, but there aren't any in Kiara, SQUIRREL! ... You feel so alive, so aware of everything around you which is not man-made.
- Trail running is a good strength, stamina and skill combo workout.
My knees don't hurt, unlike when i used to do long road runs. My hamstrings and quads are stronger than ever. i think we do the equivalent of 200-300 lunges every time we hit the trails. Before you know it, skipping over rocks and roots whilst zooming downhill becomes second nature. Your footwork improves, your climbs are easier, and the flats are absolutely blissful.
- So, where to go trail running, you ask.
There are a few convenient locations for trail walking or running in Kuala Lumpur. We in the Klang Valley are spoilt to have such access less than a 30 minute drive from most suburbs. Gasing Hill is a favourite with trekkers and local Petaling Jaya folk. Trails at Gasing are narrow and can get rather crowded on weekends so go early. Gasinghas an insane portion that I have lovingly nicknamed Heartbreak hill which is right after the suspension bridge. It is a regular challenge to see how much of it I can run up.. the entrance is via the suburban area past SMK La Salle (off Jalan Gasing). I usually do a 45 minute 4km loop.
Next in line is FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) which has the widest trails and more gradual but long climbs. The regular 8-12km route I take starts near Masjid Jamek (carpark section D) up into the Rover trail, up Steroid Hill and the Pinus (pronounced “pine-us”, minds out of the gutter please) Trail and loop back down. The peak of the Pinus Trail is a beautiful pine forest which is a good 2-3 degrees cooler than the rest of the park. Worth the climb, every time. You can catch good views of the KL tower & KLCC on the way down.
Third and still my favourite is Kiara hill. You can enter via the TTDI park entrance on Jalan Abang Haji Openg or around the back near the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC). You start near the workers hut at the corner of the carpark. You can go straight up and around the mountain to Twin Peaks, or use Park Connector and Office Trails to go around the other side. My favourite portions of the park are Sungai trail which takes you through some dense trails with bamboo flanking you on both sides down to a clear little stream. Another favourite is Barracuda which takes you quite far down into a valley and along some dark, narrow paths to add some drama to your run. If these names sound like a whole bunch of jargon, do refer to this link for some sort of elaboration: http://klmbh.org/post/21197279135/trails-of-bukit-kiara
- what should i bring along with me for my runs?
I always run with a hydration pack as our runs can take anything from 45 minutes to 2 hours. The general rule is to have 1 litre of water for every hour you run. I also have a small first aid kit and toilet paper - for both types of emergencies you always want to be prepared for! We never run with ear phones. I like to listen to my breathing, my heart rate, the people around me, the bikers tearing down the hill, and the occasional feud between warring monkey clans along the path. Sometimes, to also hear someone yell out when there are snakes on the path. Always, always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- If you can avoid it, never run alone
Try to bring your phone with you so that you can contact someone if you need help. In Kiara the trails get dark by 6.45pm so try and finish well before that unless you have headlamps and experienced runners who know the paths very well.
I hope all that inspires you to try a trail run today if you have never done it before! stay tuned through our facebook page and instagram account for upcoming trail running clinics! If you have any trails that you would like to share, please do contact us and we will add your suggestion to this article. It is a work in progress. Don’t worry, we won’t take credit for your suggestions.