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What’s to love about trail running?

Why love trail running? Well… what’s NOT to love?!

I like you, mountains.

A photo posted by Jason Fitzgerald (@jasonfitz1) on

Trail running is a small part of the running world that has captured the hearts and minds of runners everywhere.

If you run trails, you know exactly what I mean. If you’re not sure what I mean, then you don’t know what you’re missing!

As a coach, I can talk about the myriad benefits of trail running all day:

  • Injury prevention
  • Improved athleticism (agility, coordination, and strength)
  • Enhanced recovery (if the trail isn’t too technical)

But those are the technical reasons why it makes sense to run trails. What about the subtle, soft reasons for trail running?

Like getting lost (literally and figuratively) in nature or enjoying the peaceful sounds of babbling brook and songbirds rather than traffic and crowds.

It’s play-time for grown-ups – and the trails are your playground.

Last week I polled my Twitter community about what they love about running trails. Here’s a few of my favorite replies:

“It feels like more of a dynamic workout – generally more interesting, challenging, cooler, and fun.” – Wayne

“It’s more engaging: minding where I put my feet, enjoying views and greater variety overall. Also not being buzzed by cars!” – Kevin

“My body seems to prefer it: softer impact, it provides more mental engagement and you usually get to see some amazing views!” – Amy

“I like to see pretty things. And trails require you to be more mentally alert.” – Amelia

Trail running provides a sweet escape from the bustle of normal life to a serene oasis of wilderness.

Who’s ready to play?

Running Trails in Rock Creek Park

I called Washington, DC home for six years before moving to Denver and ran thousands of miles in the Rock Creek Park‘s 2,000+ acres.

The park’s hilly trails were where I trained before I ran 2:39 at the Philadelphia Marathon. I first met Doug Hay for a group run in RCP. And it’s where I ran through tropical storms, found frozen snakes, and fell more times than I can count!

For fun, I filmed a trail run in Rock Creek. I hope you enjoy it:

Trails simply make running more fun. And I want to inspire you to run more trails.

Enjoy the video and get out there and run more trails!

How to Start Trail Running

If you’re not sure where to start with trail running, there are many trail running resources available to help.

First, be sure to watch my interview with Doug Hay on the most helpful trail tips:

Above all, remember these four principles and you can’t go wrong:

#1 It’s ok to run slower! Because of more uneven terrain, obstacles like roots and rocks, and windy paths with more elevation change, trails will be slower than the roads.

Don’t expect to run the same pace. If the trail is very technical or has substantial elevation gain (like this) then you may even have to walk.

Your average pace will be slower – and for that reason, you may want to run by time rather than by distance.

#2 Don’t obsess about gear. A lot of runners are type-A about the gear they use. And trail runners might be the worst offenders.

Gear Junkie

You can go crazy researching the latest trail running shoes, handheld water bottle, and fuel belt. But the dirty secret about trail running is that you don’t need any of this gear to start.

Keep it simple. Unless you’re tackling a technical fourteener that will take 4+ hours, your normal gear will work just fine.

#3 Stay safe. Depending on the nature of the trail, you might run into dangerous wildlife, mountain bikers, or narrow trails alongside a cliff.

Run within your ability and don’t do anything outwardly dumb (like I did in this video…).

#4 Run with friends. If you can, go for an interesting trail run with a friend or group. Turn it into an adventure and explore new territory or summit the highest peak nearby.

Stay curious. Learn more about trail running. Savor the beauty away from the congested roads.

Happy trail running!

PS. Shout out to my athlete Kira who rocked her new “Run Dirty” racerback tank on her latest trail run. Looking good!

Kira_Run Dirty

See this design – and a lot more – in our gear shop.

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