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In honor of McKell running a trail half marathon today, let’s talk about trail running!

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I love trail running! I look forward to it every time I visit Utah. New York has trails also, but you just can’t beat the amazing mountains in Utah. Trail running is such good endurance, strength, and speed training since it is so much more difficult than running on a paved road or a sidewalk. I also love that when I am up there, I am not worried about my pace, which is much slower on these mountains anyway. I take time to enjoy the scenery and take it all in. It is nice to get away from everything and just be able to take off and run. I don’t even feel like I need music up there, and in fact, I think it’s great to experience it without music.

Even if you don’t live in a place with mountains, you can usually find some trails to run on. Like I said, New York has trails also and although they are not as challenging since you are not running up a mountain, it is still fun to run on. Where ever you live, grab a friend and take off on some unpaved trails!

There are some safety tips to keep in mind before you decide to hit the trails:

1. Practice the buddy system
This is especially true if you are going on a new trail. Not only is it easy to get lost, but you can end up being pretty far away from any help if needed. It is smart to bring a cell phone, water, and possibly even mase with you when you go.

2. Know where you are headed
Look at a map of where you will be before you go. Plan your route and stick to it! Tell someone where you will be and when they should expect you back.

3. Be realistic about your time and distance
Trail running is going to take you a lot longer than running on pavement, especially if there are large inclines involved! According to Runners World, experienced runners should plan to run about 6 miles in an hour on trails, and less experienced runners should plan around 4 miles in an hour.

4. Watch your step
I run trails in regular running shoes, but it is best to invest in a pair of trail shoes. They will protect your feet and ankles much better and they also have better tread on the bottom. Whatever you choose to wear, watch where you are going. It is easy to trip over rocks, sticks, slide on loose gravel or dirt, etc.

5. Check the weather before you head out
You do not want to get stuck in a storm out on the trails. Check the weather and dress accordingly. Do not go out if it is not safe!

So now that we are all safe to hit the trails, why is trail running so great? There are many reasons, but just to name a few:

1. Gives you a mental break
Running on the same roads can get old and cause some “running burn-out”. Trails are a great way to add variety to your runs! Since you are running on different terrain and at a different pace, it changes the entire running experience. It really can help you enjoy your runs more when you are feeling bored.

2. You will get stronger and faster
I mentioned this quickly in the beginning, but trail running will make you a better runner overall. When you are running up steep hills, all of your running muscles are activated, plus you are adding resistance. According to Active.com, running uphill is the most effective form of strength training for runners.

3. Easier on your lungs
Since you are getting away from roads and pollution when on the trails, you are breathing cleaner and fresher air than in the city. It really is a “breath of fresh air” :).

4. Improves your form
Running on trails can help improve your form because the uneven ground forces you to run more on your midfoot and less on your heels.

5. Good for your body
Obviously it is good for you since you are exercising, but trail running can also help prevent injuries. Getting onto a softer surface is less harsh on your tendons and joints. It also helps prevent injury by making you stronger and more fit.

Have you ever tried trail running? If so, what did you think?

-Jaeme

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