Trail Running Challenge Blog (Ethan Banks)

Lafayette The Hard Way Training Hike With 5K Run

Completed work meeting by 2pm and headed out to do a late day route over Lafayette I consider "the hard way".

  1. Up Skookumchuck. Skook was muddy and messy in the lower section with lots of grass and ferns. I slipped somewhere in the first mile, right about as I warmed up and ready to move faster, and rolled my right ankle. Not a bad roll, but it made my ankle tender and held me back for most of the day. Skook got nicer the higher I climbed. Less mud, more open, ferny forest and a mostly steady grade. I don't think it got much steeper than 1,000' in a mile. Easy hammering, almost no bouldering.

  2. At the junction, a quick climb to Lafayette summit, maybe 0.6. This was more technical, but with lovely views and well-maintained trail. Flew to the summit. Wow, am I here already?

  3. Descent to the AMC hut via Greenleaf. This was the hardest section for me, babying my ankle. Putting that foot at the wrong angle would exacerbate the injury, so I had to use poles and be especially thoughtful about foot placement. Made for slow going, down below 2 mph. Ugh.

  4. Pit stop at Greenleaf Hut for water and a snack and to take in some more views up to Franconia Ridge. Sit on the nice bench. Luxuriate in laziness for a short while.

  5. Descent on Greenleaf to the Franconia Notch Rec Path. We dropped easily at first over loose, rocky, wet trail that eventually dropped very hard via switchbacks into Eagle Pass. After Eagle Pass, Greenleaf dropped again, not quite as aggressively and with steadily improving footing, to an obvious herd path that connects to the paved rec path. That is, didn't follow Greenleaf to the terminus, but skipped the annoying rocky section that follows the low contour to get on the rec path more quickly.

  6. 5K run via the rec path back to the car. To complete the loop, stashed the poles, changed tops, then ran the 3+ miles back to the car along the paved rec path. This was a force of will. Legs and body tired after ~4K of climbing over Lafyette on a gimpy ankle, but the ankle was feeling better than it had, and running was no trouble. Mostly the battle was mental. Hey, you just climbed over a big mountain. How about running a 5K? How 😂 But, I got my head around it, and managed negative splits all the way to the car.

The mental aspect of pushing through mild ankle pain and then running the 5K was probably the largest benefit I got from the day. As I listen to more podcasts about ultrarunning, the topic of mental toughness comes up a lot, so I have been plotting routes that will begin to improve my mental endurance. The idea of a 5K pavement run after Lafayette sounded awful when I built the route, so...perfect. Glad I did it. Now to build on that experience.