Trail Running Adds Variety to Training
Running can get boring. It is a great way for improving heath and maintaining that health as pointed out in one of my prior post, "Five Minutes of Running Can Add Years to Your Life," but the fact remains that running can get boring. The same regiment day after day of pretty much anything is probably going to dilute interest, even if that particular activity is enjoyable. Beyond the point of waning interest caused by a stiff routine, repetition for runners can often lead to injury due to the pattern of stress that is placed on muscles and tendons.
One way to escape the boredom and the risk for injury is to freshen up your training with trail running.
Trail running has its perks. It gets you out of the gym and into the great outdoors or, if you are already a fan of blue skies and fresh air, it gets you off the track or off the pavement. There is much to be said for pleasant, exhaust-free scenery. That's how I took up running in earnest -- trail running next to the ocean in beautiful Monterey, California.
More than 5.8 million runners in the United States have taken to trails, an increase of more than eight percent from 2011 to 2012. Trail running will not only help improve balance and agility, but it also burns 10 percent more calories. It works different muscles and the shorter stride strengthens hips and ankles and reduces the impact on joints.
Getting Started and What to Know
Before you research trails in your area, get a feel for a change in terrain. Perhaps start out on a bike path or maybe just grass, dirt, or sand. Some flat terrain in a park would be a good starting point for trail running.
Choose appropriate shoes for the trail. Traditional running shoes are not meant for trail running, so pick up trail running shoes that provide the support, traction, and waterproofing that you will need. Non-cotton socks will keep your feet warm and prevent blisters, and a moisture-wicking, windproof jacket will keep you comfortable and dry.
Check out the trail before you run: Know the length, its structure, and its difficulty level. Start slowly. Lower the number of miles you will travel. The loose terrain on trails will take some getting used to and challenge the feet and ankles in different ways. If you encounter some rough areas, walk through them and prevent injury. Know where you are. Bring a compass and a cell phone to avoid getting lost in the woods or to get a bit of help if you should need it. Bringing a friend is always a good idea. If you go it alone, have some ID on you. Know what is ahead of you and avoid trips and falls. Keep your eyes ten feet ahead and be on the lookout for rocks, roots, and ditches. Shorten your stride and stay hydrated. A healthy snack is not a bad idea, either. Pick up after yourself. Mother Nature already has too many discarded water bottles and other trash in her backyard.
Check with your doctor before you run. It is always best to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. This is especially important for people with health conditions.
My next post in this series will explore strength training for running. See you there!
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