Finnished yet?

This weekend I discovered a nearby trail that I had no idea was there. It’s close enough to run to on longer runs at 3 miles, and only a 5 minute drive for short mid-week runs. I was told it was “about” 1.5 miles long, but I measured it at 0.98. It rolls rather nicely through the woods at a nearby private campus. The lay of the trail reminded me of the Finnenbahn we used to run on back in Switzerland. Finnenbahn (Finnish Track) is a prepared track that consists of several inches of packed sawdust. The one we made use of in Bettingen was probably 1km in length and had a wood log edge, so the sawdust was built up on top of the terrain. It had banked curves on the fast downhill zigzags, which was fun to coast down. I wish the trail at Mercer had the sure footing and cushioning of the Finnenbahn, but it is still softer than asphalt, if a little more treacherous where steep and downhill. I would even say it’s probably rougher on the knees because of the steep downhills. But I do like incorporating trails into the routine. It makes me want to explore all the trails at Stone Mountain. The roads are getting too crowded there.

Sunday’s 11 mile run consisted of 3.2 miles on pavement to the start of the trail, then 4 1/2 laps of the trail, and 3.2 miles back. The weather was perfect, high 70’s and not humid, but the last two miles I thought would kill me. However, Tuesday’s 3 miler, and today’s 6 mile tempo felt great. Do I feel good and back in prime form. For what it’s worth.

Here is German wiki on “Finnenbahn”:

Die Finnenbahn ist eine speziell angelegte Strecke, die zum Crosslauftraining oder auch für Freizeitläufer zum Joggen gedacht ist. Die Besonderheit der Finnenbahn ist der besonders weiche, etwa 10 Zentimeter dicke Bodenbelag aus Sägemehl, Sägespänen, Holzschnitzeln und dergleichen, der über einer Drainageschicht aus Sand, Kies oder Schotter angebracht wird. Durch den weichen Belag werden die Auftritte beim Laufen abgefedert und die Gelenke geschont. Von finnischen Läufern wurde die Bahn zum Ausdauertraining erfunden, um eine gelenkschonende Alternative zum Laufen auf der Tartanbahn zu haben. Sie ist zudem mit dem weichen Untergrund ideal zum Crosstraining.

Betreiber schätzen Finnenbahnen, weil sie einfach und billig sowohl in Anlage als auch Wartung sind.

My Babelfish-free translation: “The Finnenbahn is a specially prepared track meant for cross country training or for recreational jogging. The unique feature of the Finnenbahn is the soft, approx. 4″ thick base layer of sawdust, wood shavings, chips and such, over a drainage layer of sand, gravel or (some other kind of) gravel. The softness of the track absorbs the impact of the steps, and spares the joints. Finnish runners invented the Track for endurance training, as a joint-friendly alternative to running on a synthetic track. This also makes it ideal for crosstraining.” I have no idea what the last line says.

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