Top 10 Reasons to Try Trail Running
MyFitList is excited to welcome Susan Farago and Richelle Criswell of Trailhead Running as our contributing Trail Running Experts. If you’ve been thinking about hitting the trails around Austin, Susan and Richelle have years of racing, training, and coaching experience to share with you.
by Susan Farago
Trail running is a great way to change up an existing running routine or to try something new. Need a reason to give trail running a try? How about ten!
1. Miles of Trails
Austin has over 100 miles of greenbelt and natural trails including places like the Austin Greenbelt, Walnut Creek Park, and Wild Basin. Search the Web for trail head entrances and maps.
2. Cooler Temps
Temperatures can be 5-10 degrees cooler on the trails than on the road thanks to the cover of trees and dirt or rock running surfaces.
3. Run Slow
Running paces tend to be slower on the trail due to the uneven terrain. This can benefit many runners by taking advantage of the benefits of exercising and building a solid base of fitness.
4. Hang with a Relaxed Crowd
Trail runners tend to be very laid back and friendly. But don’t mistake the relaxed attitude as trail runners are amazingly fierce and talented athletes.
5. Great Cross-training
Running on trails engages and strengthens a greater range of muscles in the back, abdomen, hips, and glutes which transfers over to other sports such as cycling, swimming, and especially road running.
6. Run Longer
Because of the non-repetitive nature of trail running and the recruitment of additional stabilizer muscles and lateral connective tissue resources, longer trail runs can be done without that pounded feeling afterwards. A general guide: approximately 90 minutes of road running equates to two hours of trail running.
7. Explore and Get Lost
While some of Austin’s trails provide the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, any given trail is never more than 1-2 miles from “civilization”. This is great for those who want to get off the more heavily used trails and explore the many wandering paths.
8. Trees Beat Cars
Clean air from trees beats car exhaust any day! The only traffic to worry about on the trails comes from squirrels or birds, and hazards include random low hanging branches, cactus patches, or creek crossing (when there is water). An occasional “biker back” or “runner up” replaces an unfriendly car horn honk.
9. Run in the Dark
Night trail running provides a unique opportunity to experience running in a very different way. Senses come alive and even a very familiar trail can look completely different. Wildlife is different at night and the cast of characters includes possum, armadillo, lightening bugs, and even scorpions. Headlamps are a requirement and it’s always good to run with at least one other person.
10. Make New Friends
The trail running community is thriving in Austin and local clubs like Hill Country Trail Runners is a great place to meet new people. There are also trail running programs like Trailhead Running that provide instruction including trail running form/technique and navigation skills in a friendly “no drop” group setting.
Not sure how to start? First, check the Web for local trails. Second, plan an easy route and always let someone know where and when you go. Third, pack some water and a cell phone and then hit the trails!
About Susan Farago: Susan is the co-owner of Trailhead Running and co-coach for “Women on the Trails” – an Austin-based women’s only trail running program. She is a certified coach, an ultra-distance athlete, and a nationally published sports/fitness writer.
About Trailhead Running: Created by trail runners to support those aspiring to be new or better trail runners! Trailhead Running provides comprehensive trail running programs in a safe group format with a focus on exploration, learning, and fun. Trailhead Running leads the Women on the Trails running program as well as Trail Trips – guided day trips to trails outside of Austin.
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