Hitting the Trails

I’ve been a road runner for years, somewhere close to 20.   Whenever Dave came home from a run through the trails, raving about how great it was, I listened and answered with a supportive “That’s nice, Dear.”  And if he suggested that I try heading into the trails, I stubbornly explained the route that I had already planned to run.  I simply wasn’t interested in running trails. 

Sometime during the past year, I warmed up to the idea.  Perhaps it was from reading friends’ descriptions of their trail runs.  It might have been the end result of my coaching my cross-country team on the trails or the rush that I’ve had when a few races have had parts going off-road.  Whatever the raason, I have been logging more and more miles on the trails.

Runners World recently encouraged beginning runners to stay motivated by making a list of reasons to run.  The same idea is applicable to new trail runners.  Here’s mine:

1. Variety –  Just like running in different places keeps things interesting, so does running the trails.  Unlike the roads, though, trails change from week to week in the spring as foliage begins to grow and the landscape changes with it.  There have been some weeks when I felt like I was running in an area that I hadn’t explored before.

2. Injury Prevention – Running over dirt, grass, gravel and any surface softer than concrete is easier on the joints as there is less impact.  At my age (almost 50), I can’t help but think about staying injury-free.  After all, I do want to be running when I’m almost 60 too.

3. Exertion – I’m slowly learning that running on trails is not about time; it’s about exertion.  So while my overall pace is slower, I always feel that I’m working harder than on the road.  Without fail, my next road workout seems easier.

4. Hills – Not all trails have them but the ones that I run inevitably lead to the hills – and I love my hill workouts.

Yes, there are other reasons but these are the ones that are most important to me.  Why do you love to head into the trails?

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