Michigan is blessed with miles upon miles of trails for running and biking. Unfortunately, most trailheads are nearly an hour drive away. But this doesn’t stop me from taking every opportunity I have to run in them. I am lucky enough to have a small gem only a few miles from my work. While taking a “runch” today I couldn’t help but think how much I prefer the trails over the road and came up with the following list.
Why I Love Trail Running Over Road Running
1. It kicks your brain into high gear. When you’re on the road, its pretty easy to let your mind wander or go blank. On the trails, you have to be aware of more than just your body. You have to constantly scan your surroundings as well as carefully plan the placement of each footstep. Sure, a sidewalk crack can sneak up on you every once in a while, but roots, rocks, puddles, branches, and cliffs are a constant threat on the trails. All this real-time analysis of the terrain alongside with paying attention to your body requires some major processing power from your brain.
2. Shade! Ever run down the streets on a hot summer morning, with the sun beating down so hard that you seek out every house with sprinklers? Its brutal! On the trails, you are surrounded by tall oaks, birches and maples, and they all provide an abundant amount of shade. Rarely if ever do I need to wear sunglasses when in the woods. And who needs the risk of sunburn or skin cancer? Yes my neighborhood is full of trees, shading the streets, but nowhere in comparison to the trails.
3. Nature. The trails are filled with wildlife. I’m always spotting deer, woodchuck, frogs, and turtles. The most wildlife you find running in my town are dogs being walked (and the occasional coyote).
4. Obstacles. Aside from all the roots and rocks you need to watch out for on the trails, you also find yourself running through a natural obstacle course. Creeks to cross, fallen trees to hop, mud pits to ford…who needs to spend $50 on a Warrior Dash?
5. No cars! The archenemy of the pedestrian won’t be found on the single-tracks. You may come across a pack of mountain bikers, but never anything with more than two wheels.
6. A sense of danger. With the wildlife, rough terrain and obstacles around you, the trails can be risky. And nothing sets off those endorphins more than a little danger over your shoulder. You’re body goes into fight or flight mode and because you came out there to run, you take flight!
Tips For First-Timers
- Go easy. Because trails are anything but flat, it takes more energy to run than it would on a flat road. Take walk breaks if you need to.
- Take your cellphone. There’s a handful of times I hit the trails without my phone and each one of those times, I regretted it. Especially if you’re by yourself, you may need to call for help.
- Run with a buddy. Trails can be risky and you may need help. Not many passerby in the middle of the woods.
- Take a map. Small, short trails may not require one, but if your trail system spans several miles, it’s incredibly easy to get lost.
- Take water. I rarely take water on road runs under 5 miles. On the trails, I take some no matter the distance. A wrong turn could make your 3 mile run double to 6.
- Bug spray. The woods are full of mosquitoes, ticks, flies and chiggers. Not only is it extremely annoying to be swarmed by bugs when you take a rest, but tick bites can lead to Lyme Disease.
So there you have it, six reasons I love trail running and six basic tips every trail runner should know. I could come up with more, but I’d like to hear from fellow runners in the comments.
- What do you love about the trails? Or do you prefer the roads?
- Have any tips you’d like to share?
Happy trails!Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Newton Running. The views and opinions in this post were all my own. I was compensated to provide a link to their form clinic calendar. You can read my policy on reviews here. If you are interested in contacting me for an opportunity, reach me through BlogDash.