Yesterday I did a 9-mile trail run with Barefoot Josh. The humidity was up and you could feel summer just behind the curtain. When we finally climbed into the car, dripping sweat and covered in trail dirt, Josh remarked that being tired from a trail run is a "different kind of tired," in the very best sense.
He's absolutely right. I'm hard pressed to explain it, but the satisfaction that comes from pounding out miles in dirt and mud is much greater than anything I've ever experienced running pavement. I liken it to white collar and blue collar work. People work hard at both types of jobs, but when you come home from a day of say, laying brick vs. sitting at a desk, you know you've put in a hard day's work. (And no, I've never laid brick but I imagine that's pretty hard.)
Trail runs are like that. You're bouncing through roots, tumbling down hills and hurdling logs. The leaves of plants brush against your legs and tree limbs occasionally claw at your back. Bugs are attracted to your ripe scent and pursue you down the trail. The ice-cold water you poured in your take along bottle turns warm and then hot. You hop, scrabble, slide, stumble, gasp, and pant. You think, surely, you must be near the end, only to pass a trailhead sign indicating it's 3 more miles to the road.
Then, when it's all over, you climb into the car and reminisce about what a great run it was.
I hope to see a lot of trail running in my future.