One of my goals for this summer is to get out on the trails more often. There’s just something about the trails that makes running more fun. Jumping over creeks, hopping over downed trees, I feel like a kid again.
The one thing that has prevented me from doing more trail running is having someone to go with. Blame it on one too many horror movies and just being overly cautious. I refuse to go by myself. I don’t feel safe. You never know when Sasquatch or Yetti will show up. Or worse.
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to head out with two friends for some trail therapy. It was just what we all needed. Peaceful, laid back and oh so gentle on our joints. I’m by no means an expert on the trails but our time off the road reinforced the benefits of trail running. We all agreed weekly trail therapy is going to happen.
It Slows You Down
When you are running on the trails, you will go slower. Technical terrain and uneven footing, makes you be aware of each step.
I tend to run by feel instead of a strict pace when on the trails. You’ll naturally slow down on hills or when you’re avoiding an obstacle.
Effort, rather than a specific pace per mile, is what really counts when you’re trail running. Expect your pace to be at least 1-2 minutes slower than road running. I wear my Garmin but it’s just for mileage not pace.
With trail running, there’s bound to be more hills. Hills are speed work in disguise, right? It’s the most efficient form of strength training for runners since it uses all the muscles you activate when running on flat surfaces, but builds greater strength due to the increased resistance.
Works More Muscles
Stepping over tree roots, rocks and hopping across muddy spots will make you use more muscles than road running. You’re also working on balance as you run over and around these obstacles, causing you to use smaller, lesser-used muscles in your legs, core and arms.
Running on an uneven surface makes you use shorter, quicker strides and land more on the forefoot than the heel. It requires less energy and allows for faster tempo (which is what you want).
Good for the Soul
Fresh air, babbling brooks, quiet, calm, green spaces. Being out in nature is just what the soul needs to be refreshed and rejuvenated. You don’t have to deal with traffic, stopping at stop lights, creeper beepers. What’s more relaxing – loud motorcycles zooming by you or the wind through the trees? I’ll take the wind any day!
Trail running can be intimidating. Most people think it’s all scaling mountain peaks and boulders. But don’t be afraid. Grab a friend and get dirty on the trails!
Your body and soul will thank you.