For the Love of the Trail

Joe Trail Running

If you live here in Tennessee, you’ve likely been teased with some springtime weather and found yourself out for an extra run just because “it’s nice out!” Spring is just a few short weeks away and a new season of trail running is ahead of us!  Up until this past fall I hadn’t ventured out onto trails unless we were hiking or camping.  Let me tell ya, though — I wish someone had introduced me to it sooner!  I will say as a road racer I spend a lot of my training runs on the asphalt, but once a week I head out to the trails with a few guys to kinda decompress from a long week of training.  So if you’re not sold on it yet, just keep reading!

6 Reasons to Get off the Asphalt

1. Cross training
Who runs because it’s convenient and quick?  And who adds in yoga, weight training, or boot camp at least once a week?  In order to be a stronger runner and reduce the risk of injury, you must cross train!  If you refuse to get into the hype of the gym, then the trails are for you!

2. Core Work
Who doesn’t want a more chiseled core and back?!  Sign me up!  Running trails requires you to engage your entire core (shoulders, back, abdominals, obliques, and glutes) in order to remain stabilized and not find yourself on your rear.  After an hour of remaining engaged with lateral movements and a little jumping, your core is going to be one of one thing: STRONGER!

3. Minus the Monotony
Nine miles on the trails is completely different than 9 miles on the road.  It’s as simple as that.  Every step is different and new.  The scenery is constantly changing and you’re inherently aware of either the roots in front of you or the wildlife to your right (or left)!  And if you really want to stay on your toes, bring a 4-legged friend!

4. Stronger Running
Head over to Percy Warner park and run those rooted and rocky hills.  It’ll give you a whole new outlook on your weekly hill work!  By tackling the uneven surfaces, switchbacks, ups and downs, and side to side running you’ll inevitably be a stronger runner back on the road.

5.  Less Impact
It seems like only a runner will tell you that running isn’t bad for your knees.  And if you ask me, they’re right!  But we all love a little softer landing when it’s available, right (hello, max cushioning shoes?)  Slowing down and becoming more aware of every foot strike is going to leave you with less impact on your knees and hips.  After a hard week of pounding the pavement, you need to be sweet to those joints!

6.  Pace Doesn’t Matter
I think this might be my favorite one.  There is no shame walking the hills or slowing down for a slippery or highly rooted patch.  Get done.  Check your watch.  11:40 pace?!  Incredible!

And Fuel
Pack your favorites!  The trails are more forgiving for time and digestion.  My favorites are the RUN bars by E-bar or a Grab the Gold.  Slowing down and less jostling is a lot easier on my gut so I forgo the gels.  And if trail running and racing becomes your thing, don’t be surprised if you see sandwiches and Oreos in lieu of gels and chews out there (and over-the-shoulder water packs in lieu of fuel belts and handhelds).  It’s all fair game out on the trails.  JUST DON’T LITTER!  There’s no clean up crew out in the sticks, so it is highly frowned upon to dispose of your empty wrappers for the critters to pick up

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