Why trail running? There are SO many reasons to go trail running.
|The trails at Parc du Mont Royal in Montreal, definitely an all time fav.|
- Trail running also works more muscle groups than running on pavement, especially the supporting muscles that you use to compensate for uneven terrain, or uphill/downhill paths that you would not encounter in street or treadmill running.
- In addition to the physiological benefits of trail running there is also the pure joy that comes with running in nature. I love trail runs because running in the wilderness is just such a liberating and euphoric experience. I am going to risk sounding super granola for a second, and say that trail running really makes you feel so connected to nature and mother earth.
- Trail running is much more scenic than running city streets or treadmill running; most of the trails I have run have pretty great views at some point or another, and it's nice to stop and revel in the beauty of the view to which your own two legs have carried you.
Things to know about trail running (according to me):
|Trails to the the Nike Missile Tower.|
Starts in Tarzana at the end of Reseda Blvd.
- Downhill is not the time to be Speedy McSpeedster: I know, I know, you worked hard running up a hill and now it would feel so awesome to pound down that hill at awesome speeds, but it just doesn't work that way. Pounding down a hill at very high speeds is one of the easiest ways to get injured, if not from wiping out, then from straining your joints and supportive tissue with the heavy impact of speeding downhill. Running downhill will definitely be easier, and A LITTLE faster than running uphill, but the key is to take small, quick steps and always be mindful of where your are stepping.
- There is a sun.....and it burns. I know that this is the case with all types of outdoor running, but it's always good to remember to slap on some sunscreen before heading out for a run.
- You will want water. No matter whether or not you go on 5, 10, or 15 miles runs on streets without water (which is actually never a good idea, hence why I have done it numerous times) I have found that trails have the magical power of making me far thirstier on my runs than I would be had I run the equivalent distance on the streets.
- There will be others......and they will have dogs. I am a dog lover, don't get me wrong. But I am also a runner, and as any other seasoned runner knows, dogs for some reason or another tend to not like runners. Maybe it's the fact that we are moving at high speeds towards them, maybe it's our bright neon running shoes, or maybe they're just jealous of how awesome we look running (yep, most likely this one) but they don't seem to like us that much. Just be ready to have to weave around hikers, runners, and their pets.
- You will want to stop, like immediately.........DON'T. I remember when I went on my first trail run, it was with my freshman year roommate, during my sophomore year of college. About 2 minutes into it I was thinking "Can't breathe........legs feel like lead.....must....stop...." but I just kept running with her, and at some point I broke through the mental and physical barrier I had encountered and embraced the difficulty and the beauty of the run. Once you get over the initial hump of getting started on your trail run, you will hit your stride (undoubtedly slower than the one that you would have hit if you were running the streets) and it will be awesome.
- You know where you are.....make sure someone else does too. It is always important to have a phone and/or identification on you when you are outdoors and running solo. It is also really important to make sure that at least one person knows where you are running, just in case something happens to you. It is just a precaution, but this is one situation where it costs next to nothing to be safe; it takes nothing more than a text message to let someone know where you plan on running.
|These are my splits for our trail run.|
Clearly miles 4 and 5 were the steep
uphill on the trails.
......in the words of Borat: Great Success!
In conclusion, don't be afraid to try something new when it comes to running; whether it be running in a new neighborhood, running on the streets instead of on a treadmill, or running some trails. Any run that doesn't end in tears (and even some that do) is a good run, and you will likely discover something new about running that you love!