Earlier this summer my friend Dan and I were running in a local forest preserve. On a whim, we decided to cut through the woods on some single track trails. Next thing you know, we’re weaving through some great scenery, jumping over fallen trees and really enjoying the experience. Since that time I have turned to trail running whenever I need a change of pace. Here are 7 reasons to consider adding trail running to your weekly routine.
1. Break up the routine. Whenever the thought of going out for a run feels like a drag, I usually find myself going out for a trail run. Trail running requires more focus. The obstacles (roots, branches, rocks, etc.) require you to pay attention to the path. No time for mundane thoughts or boredom when you’re weaving through the woods.
2. Need a break from the summer sun? Go for a Trail Run. This past summer was extremely hot. The wooded trail setting provides protection from the summer heat.
3. Conversely, if you need a break from the cold winter wind, trails provide protection from the wind chill.
4. The air is cleaner and more abundant on the trails thanks to photosynthesis and protection from the exhaust of the roads.
5. Draw energy from the surrounding beauty. I always get a charge out of running through the forest, over streams and rivers, etc. I never tire of seeing deer and other wildlife on the trail.
6. Get Stronger. Trails require runners to run, weave and sometimes jump over small obstacles. It’s a great workout and provides strengthening for ankles, quads and calves.
7. The softer surface of the trail provides much better shock absorption and lessens the chance for common running injuries like shin splints, etc.
Trail Runners need to be aware of potential hazards. It’s certainly possible to turn an ankle or fall. Exercise caution, and over time you will develop a sense for this type of running. Be familiar with the local wild life. If you live near dangerous wild animals (i.e. mountain Lions, etc.) it would be best to run with a buddy. Since trails can be secluded, women should never run alone.
Greg is running enthusiast. A former NCAA Division I Track athlete, Greg is now competing in Marathons and other races including off-road events. Greg lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife Carole and four kids. He maintains a site dedicated to running in the Midwest: http://www.midwestrunner.com