Over the past few weeks I’ve ventured over into the realm of trail running. A few weeks back I had a right lower calf muscle that was giving me trouble so I decided to add trail to my routine. I figured it would help slow down my pace and reduce the pounding I endured from the cement and pavement. For the next week I kept my normal swim and bike workouts as planned but, all my running took place on a trail.
At the end of the week I found that I really enjoyed running out on the trail. It brought back memories of when I was growing up as a kid. I recalled playing outside at my grandparent’s place which was located in the out skirts of my hometown. Their house was surrounded by fields and there was a canal system with dirt trails near by. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to run across a freshly turned over field. I used to love to run barefoot through the fields feeling the soft dirt squish between my toes.
At the end of the week I realized that I was missing out on one of the things I really loved doing. That was being outside and running free. I know in years past I had frowned upon trail running because of risk of injury. I’ve given trail running some serious thought and decided to continue to add it to my workout routine.
I see some strength benefits from running trails which you cannot get on a flat open road. I like the fact that trail running gives me another training option. I can either incorporate hill repeats into my running routine or go find a trail and get my hill work there.
There is also a fun factor. One of the best trail runs I had was after a good rain fall. Running the trial with mud weights on the bottom of your shoe can’t be beat! Not only were my feet heavy but, I also had to take extra precaution not to slip and fall. Falling down would mean that I would have been covered in mud. Not sure that would have been a bad thing. J
An after shot of a muddy trail run.
There is a trail running community here in the DFW area. If this is something you would like to try it’s not that hard to go out and find a trail to keep you company. Use this link to find trails and trail running events. http://www.nttr.org/
Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind when running a trail.
- Find a trail with some good elevation changes. This will help you build leg strength.
- I found that trail running takes more focus and you will run at a slower pace than you are used to so don’t let the slower pace discourage you.
- You will find that you will naturally start to look down at your path. This is good. You want to look down. Trails will have uneven surfaces, rocks, roots sticking out of the ground etc. I know I fell the first couple times out.
- Always plan out your trail run before hand. Do not take on a new trail without knowing where you are going. You do not want to get turned around and run out of fluids.
- Take fluids and calories with you even if you plan on doing a short run. Better safe than sorry.
- If running along wear an ID bracelet or and ID. Also let someone know where you plan on running.
Trial running can be a great substituted from your normal every day running routine. Every now and then I plan on putting a trail run on my calendar in place of a long weekend run.
Broke in a pair of Brooks trail shoes over in Cedar Hill.
Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.