Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Running on the Trails

It's no surprise that trail running has increased in numbers recently. Many runners are taking the great outdoors to a new level.  I am partaking in some trail running this weekend as well. So what's the big deal? Well for starters it is still a great way to exercise but so much better on your legs and feet as compared to regular road running. Sure it is hard, but everything is hard when you first start off. Plus being hard makes for a better workout. 

Why should you spice up your running routine with trail running?

  • Fewer Injuries. There is nothing more depressing for runners than to be injured.  The surfaces on trails are much softer than concrete. The force impact from running is much less which equates to less injuries. The soft surface absorbs the shock sent from each step. 
  • Breathe Easier.  Enjoy the fresh air from the great outdoors.  Running in the city you get that wonderful smell of smog. Don't get me wrong who doesn't love smog right?...but if I had to choose, I choose fresh air.  All you would be breathing is the fresh oxygen provided from the plants and trees. 
  • Protect your Skin. Most trails contain a lot of covered trees for added shade. Along with sunscreen, the shade helps prevent skin cancer. Not only does the shade help protect your skin but it also cools the temperature, decreasing your chance of heat exhaustion or stroke.
  • Hills. I know many people hate running hills, but it is a well known fact that implementing hills to your workout regime will make you faster. Out on the trails, hills come in many shapes and forms.  They make you work harder and end up toning your legs, butt, core, as well as your arms. Stronger muscles means new speed and greater endurance.
  • Reduces Stress.  Just picture a great run with no noise, no distractions, no smog. Trail running offers unmatched reprieve for runners seeking asylum from those everyday sounds.
If you are new to running start off with 20-30 minutes alternating from walking and running. This will allow your feet to adjust to the new terrain. If you are recovering from an injury, test out the waters by doing the same duration but if you feel fine, continue on for a longer period of time. If you are devoted to running on treadmills, go for time instead of pace. Trail running is slower so don't be discouraged if you aren't going at your normal pace. This will be more challenging. Try to sprint uphills and walking downhills. You will still get a great workout, so don't be discouraged. For those that already run trails challenge yourself by finding a route that is 20% longer than what you are used to and build up to that. The more hills, the better.

The following are great sites that show trail races all over the US. They will also provide more helpful information on trail running:

Of course there will be some pre-cautions you will have to take. Always let people know where you are going and the expected time of your return. If in worst case scenario people need to come look for you, they know where to start looking. Carry a cell phone with you to call someone in case of an emergency. Some areas will have better reception than others. This of course depends on your cell phone provider. Remember to also wear bright colors to stand out. So lace up those shoes and head out and hit some trails!

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