For Trailheads, by a Trailhead

Apr. 9, 2015

Lisa Jhung, one of the original racers at the inaugural XTERRA World Championship in Maui back in 1996, turned her passion for multisport into a career as a journalist covering the industry for the last two decades. Last week she set a PR of sorts, publishing her first book about the sport she loves the most – trail running.

Trailhead CoverWe caught up with her to talk about her new book, Trailhead

XTERRA: Congrats Lisa, thousands of articles but first book, right?
Lisa Jhung: Yes! Thousands (maybe hundreds) of articles, but this is my first book.

XT: When did the love for trail start?
LJ: I fell in love with running on the beach and on the bluff trails of Del Mar (San Diego), CA, toward the end of high school, and then all around campus at U.C. Santa Barbara. I was a volleyball team walk-on. I started running on the beach in Del Mar to train for the timed mile we had to do at try outs. When I quit late in my freshman year, I really got into running. After college, I lived in—and ran trails around—San Francisco, Mill Valley, Tahoe, and now Boulder.  I sometimes ran on roads, but have always opted for sand, dirt, grass, snow. I'm an XTERRA gal, after all. :)”

XT: What was your favorite part of writing the book?
LJ: Since the book is illustrated, I loved the creative process of thinking visually and coming up with conceptual/fun ways to get a point across. I'd write, draw, doodle, write...And I'd go on runs to mull over chapters, paragraphs, illustrations or whatever. A few miles on a trail always helps me make decisions and clear my mind.

XT: What was the hardest part of writing the book?
LJ: The hardest part about writing the book is dedicating the time. I wrote it all in about a year, but was freelancing for magazines—juggling shoe reviews, profiles, etc.—with deadlines the whole time. And I have two little boys, so life is busy even when I'm not working on a book!

XT: Tell us again how you got to Maui in ‘96 for the first XTERRA (AquaTerra) and what you remember from that race.
LJ: I saw the Aquaterra advertised in the back of a magazine (Competitor, I think) after a run in Marin one day. I was just out of college, and an Olympic-distance road triathlete at the time. It sounded like a good excuse to go to Hawaii, so I roped in a college roommate and we made the trip together. I bought my first mountain bike shorts when I got to Maui, and raced on a steel frame, no-shock clunker. I ate it pretty hard (still have the scars) on the first descent … twice. I had to ride to get to the next aid station, and then thought, "What else am I going to do today? Might as well make it through this course." I chucked my bike into the TA and have never been happier to head out of T2 on foot!”

XT: Are you coming back for the 20th edition on November 1?
LJ: I hope to come back for the 20th. My mountain biking hasn't gotten a whole lot better, but I'd love to return to the XTERRA family and celebrate continuing to love the off-road world.

From the preview...

Trailhead is a witty, fun guide to all things trail running. Veteran trail runner, triathlete, and adventure racer Lisa Jhung offers this illustrated pocket guide to all runners curious about running off road or wanting to run farther into the backcountry. She offers authoritative advice on everything from how to find good trails to run, how to choose the best shoes and clothing, how to carry enough water, and how to stay safe from wildlife and weather.”

Order yours at
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