Mar 30, 2011

Why run on trails?

Roads are naturally the choice for beginning runners. It is a simple way to track miles, and provides a more economical way to train. I still do a lot of my runs on the road simply because of how limited I am with time.

For many years I refused to run on the roads because of how uncomfortable it was. It started out that I did this because I did not want people to see me running. So I would drive 5 minutes to a local trail to run on. Eventually it became about getting alone time, and being able to be in an area that I could forget about my daily rat race of a life. I use to be able to go out to the same trail that was just a couple of minutes away to do my runs. Now with all of the development that has taken place that spot is no longer available like it used to be. So the time came that I had to either run in the road (I do not want to even bother mentioning the DREAD-mill) or to not train as often as I should.

Luckily when I found a road to run on it had a nice shoulder for runners to use, and that the traffic was not too heavy. Unfortunately there have been times when I have been yelled at by teenagers, almost hit by careless drivers, and have breathed in more exhaust fumes than I care to have in my lungs. So I decided to look a little harder for some local trails in the area.

To my surprise there was a considerable amount of trails just minutes away from my house. I now try to make it a goal to get out on the trails for my weekend runs. When getting back into trails I forgot about how different it is than road running. Hills, rocks, narrow spaces, water, and wildlife. The biggest adjustment was adapting the right pace because of how different the terrain was than roads. Many people do not realize how much more challenging trails are than roads, so they try to keep their road running pace up only to find that they get burned out.

Not too long ago I went up to a popular trail and planned to do a 20 mile run. I made sure I had enough food and water so that this would not turn into disaster. I did not know this trail incredibly well but had the general idea. I ended up doing 21 miles, and realized at the end that I should have prepared better. During the run I encountered many hills, and I was pleased with how well my body handled them, although I did have to make the proper adjustments (slowing down). It was refreshing to see other runners on the trails, and I was amazed at how friendly they were. Trail running is a great thing to add to your exercise regimen, and can help your runs become more exciting. It is a much better way to build muscles that you do not get by running on roads. You also get the benefit of being able to hear your own thoughts, and get the chance to truly clear your head from stressful lifestyles. To me this is what exercise is all about.

I must say that during each of my trail runs I notice that fellow trail runners are much friendlier, and that it is nice to not have the constant noise of cars passing by. If you haven’t tried this yet, I encourage you to do so. Just try to ease into it so that you do not get injured, do not go at the trails too fast like you would with the road. Make it enjoyable and relaxing. Good luck!!!!!

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