Health & Fitness.

Lessons (Both Fun AND Informative!) On Trail Running


Now that I’m a few days away from my first trail run, I thought I’d share with you some lesson I’ve learned along the way.

  • It is the most therapeutic type of running there is. One of my running buddies put it best when she said that for 2 hours the only thing she has to think about is where do I put my foot? You really have to focus on every step so you lose any and all abilities to stress out about anything outside those trails. It just falls away. If you start thinking about it, you might trip, so you focus on the path in front of you and save everything stressing you for when you’re done. BEST. THING. EVER.
  • Even graceless clumsy people can trail run! I heard that before from several running friends who are as clumsy as I am. It seemed that they all believed trails are the great equalizer. EVERYONE eventually busts their ass running trails. No matter how graceful you are. So basically you are suddenly not the clumsiest one on a run!
  • As a matter of fact, we may be better suited for trail running. If you’ve fallen in your life as often as I have, then this is the key: YOU KNOW HOW TO FALL. In those moments when the world shift beneath your feet, you are trained to make important decisions in balance and in bracing yourself. People who don’t fall often? Like my husband? End up on the ground. You and I – the clumsy people? Miraculously end up inches FROM the ground balanced while holding on to the nearest tree and possible a human or two. It’s our secret super power and you won’t realize it until the first time you hit the trails.
  • But you gotta have traction. Since I started trail running in the wet/icy winter, I learned the importance of traction early on. Street shoes don’t have it. Trail shoes do. Once I started trusting the traction on my trail shoes (after several ice-skating miles in my street shoes) I became faster. I just bought the cheapest trail shoes Fleet Feet had. They’re made by Inov-8 and they were $80. They’ve been great.
  • A trail that is “technical” is difficult but often also SUPER DUPER FUN. It seems the most basic use of the word “technical” when describing a trail implies the inability of the trail to be RUN. Either because it’s covered in rocks (we run on a lot of drainage/creek beds) or because it requires your hands. At first I was “scared” of running technical trails but now I love it. Because A) It forces you to walk which is what makes my endurance better on trails…those breaks. and B) It’s FUN. Not necessarily the rock covered trails, but the parts that require you climb using your hands are fun!
  • Which is why sometimes you need your hands. I normally run with a water bottle in my hand but I’ve learned that having my hands free makes balance, catching myself, and climbing much easier. I was given a Fleet Feet gift card so I used it to splurge on one of those water backpacks. Mines a Nathan and I ran 10 miles in it this weekend and it never chaffed me once. LOVE IT. Makes running down trails even faster because I can hold my arms out like an airplane for balance! Sometimes I even make airplane noises!
  • Speaking of being childish…have you been covered in mud lately? My favorite thing so far about these trails is that portions of this course are just always muddy. I’m sure in dryer climates your trails may have dry days, but around here? Nope. And there is something about splashing around in the mud that makes you feel about 12 years old. It’s amazing. I highly recommend splashing in mud to everyone. Even if you’re not running trails.

4 thoughts on “Lessons (Both Fun AND Informative!) On Trail Running”

  1. You have inspired me! I hit a trail for the first time yesterday and I loved it. I do not like road running at all and have failed to finish Couch to 5K more times than I care to admit. I find it boring beyond belief. Yesterday I just hiked the trails because my regular running shoes were not going to cut it on the damp, leaf covered ground. I was really out there to see what the terrain was like (moved recently, unfamiliar with the parks) and if the scenery and surface would make that big of a difference. It absolutely did. I never would have thought of it had you not started posting about your runs. I may have found an outdoor activity that I don’t hate!

  2. Now I will out myself as a horrible friend – aren’t you a topography fan? I seem to remember that you are.

    Anyway, if that IS the case (and I’m NOT a horrible friend, woo hoo!), I could see why you in particular would love trail running. You’re setting foot on all of those colored levels! 🙂

    And if that ISN’T the case and you had to google topography .. well, maybe you should pick that up as a hobby anyway.

  3. DUDE. I love topographical lines on USGS maps. They’re like my favorite part of cartography because they’re just lines that connect common elevations but visually they also show the terrain. It’s like MAGIC ART.

    Yes. Love the idea of climbing over all those lines 😉

  4. LOVE THIS! I was ogling trail shoes in the Patagonia catalog last night. You are inspiring me to go out and get good & dirty!

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