I recently took up trail running as I prepare for the Vulture Bait 25k, my first trail race. Today I ran in Durham Forest.
My Garmin Data (I finally bought a Garmin - yay)
Roads and Sidewalks? Who needs 'em?
Two words: TRAILS ROCK!
There's something very zen about running through a dense forest, with nothing but your foot steps to keep you company.
I could go on for a few paragraphs trying to explain it, but honestly, just go out and do it. Find a nice trail and run it!
Do you need special shoes? Nope! They make trail shoes, but I got by just fine with some old road shoes. If there were slippery rocks or deep mud, maybe it would be a different story, but to try it? Just go do it.
Do you need to go somewhere special? Not really. I found a ravine near my house with walking trails, that got the job done. Conservation areas, parks, anywhere with trails through trees and you're good to go!
Benefits I've found so far:
- The surface is soft and forgiving. The impact of concrete and asphalt can be hard on you, even with super-gel soft pillow shoes.
- The stability muscles get a work-out. Each stride is different, your foot lands at different angles, you have to jump over stuff, it's a much more thorough workout.
- It breaks you out of your rhythm. No setting a pace and sticking to it for an hour, you need to go up steep hills, down them, recover when you can and do it again.
- Zen baby, zen! Nature and lots of it... very calming and soothing. And there is no time for boredom, you have to constantly scan for stumps, roots, rocks, fallen trees, sand, puddles, mud...
- Bugs. I didn't encounter many, but I heard them plotting to get me next time...
- Bears. Once again, I didn't encounter any, and where I run there usually aren't any, but if you're in a real forest there is a risk of wild life encounters. I carry dog spray on all my runs/rides, though, so I felt prepared. Or bring a whistle... or both!
- Risk. There are obstacles and some of them could trip you up if you aren't careful (and probably even if you are). I went down a few very steep rocky downhills today that freaked me out a bit, but I feel more confident with every step. And let's face it, dodging cars ain't no picnic either!