Things suddenly got real for me when I signed up for the Mogollon Monster 100 race. How was I going to run in that type of terrain when I live in terrain that’s like this______________________. It's still 3 months away, but I knew I’d have to get creative with my training.I’ve made several trips to the hill country to get some running in rugged elevated trails, but I can’t afford to make those trips weekly (as much as I may want to).
There are options: Running back and forth over an overpass gets old very quickly. The dreadmill, you ask? Don't even get me started with it. As boring as it may be, it's helped me too, but I felt like there had to be more options out there.
At a friend’s encouragement, I decided a month ago to add tire dragging to my workouts. I was a little intimidated because I’m not the strongest person and wondered if I would even be able to drag this tire. I had no choice but to do it.
The 1st thing I did was tell my dad to be on the lookout for any tire on the side of the road. Being from the RGV, unfortunately, people dump tires on the side of the road almost everywhere. Within a day, my dad called me that he found 2 tractor tires. “Ummm. I was thinking something smaller.” Was my response. “Maybe, like a small car’s tire.”
By the end of the day, he called that he’d found 2. By the way, I was making 1 for myself and 1 for my friend, David, so this was perfect.
Surprisingly, it was very inexpensive to make:
- 8 feet of ¼ nylon rope: $2.75
- Screw with a loop head: $2.50 (full disclosure: don’t know the actual name)
- Weight belt: $19.99
- Tire: Free
I've seen others wrap the rope around their waist, so I guess the belt could be optional, but this looks too painful/uncomfortable. I even read somewhere somebody posted on FB that a belt for this could be made from duct tape. Nevertheless, I suggest a belt.
I have done 4 workouts (1 x week) the last month using my tire drag. The 1st drag was 1 mile (to test it out) on the street in front of my apartment. The last 3 weeks I’ve increased the workout by 2 miles. I've done runs of 4, 6 and 8 miles.
In my opinion, the street / paved is a little bit easier than gravel / dirt. 3 out of 4 of my workouts have been in the dirt next to a canal.
I feel like my quads are getting stronger, and I think my running is getting stronger too. I’ve made 2 trips to the Hill of Life in Austin in 3 weeks and have done the similar workout (repeats) but with different results. The 1st time we did repeats, I really struggled. They’ve difficult and I earned every single step. This last time, it was still difficult, but I felt more comfortable out there. I think I was even hiking “with a purpose” as I like to call it…and let’s be honest: I hike the uphills on most ultras.
At the 5+ mile point of dragging my tire, my quads feel like that indescribable feeling towards the end of a long trail run when you are drudging up a huge incline. That’s the only other time I’ve felt that way. Simulating that feeling's gotta be a good thing.
It feels as if my core is getting an intense workout...almost like I'm dragging it and doing crunches at the same time. I've been ending my tire drag with a couple miles to cool down (without the tire). At the onset, I'm flying without the added resistance, but suddenly, within several hundred meters, it kicks in...the fatigue. It's running on tired legs, I keep telling myself.
The plan is to increase my weekly tire drag run by 2 miles each week. Tonight, I'm due for 10 miles. I remember that 1st time when I barely could muster 1 mile. It's been 5 weeks since that evening. No joke.
I won’t discount that fact that it might be all in my mind, but even if that’s the case, I’ll take it.
I definitely recommend tire dragging – especially for those of us (as we are fondly known) flatlanders.