It’s Summer! Around here the racing season is at a lull due to the heat. Personally, I won’t be gearing up for marathon training for a few more months. With that in mind, I am switching gears and hitting the trails this summer. Trails are not for everyone as my teammate Amy reminds me. Many people feel uncomfortable with the footing or just simply being so far from help! But for others like me, it’s a refreshing change of pace. Here are the reasons I love to get out there:
Forget the pace! This is the best part. Expect that you will be slower and focus on sustained effort. This is good practice for those that are a slave to the watch. Instead find new goals like how much elevation can you gain?! Taking your easy days on the trails is a great choice for active recovery. Don’t be afraid to stop and enjoy the scenery. Nothing wrong with a selfie at the top of the mountain for bragging rights.
Build new muscles. Just because you don’t aren’t going as fast doesn’t mean you aren’t getting stronger. Many trails require uphill running and there is nothing that gets you stronger faster than hill running. That said, like any new activity, at first I expect to be sore in all new places. Hip flexors and calves can be sore after a lot of climbing but you will be surprised how quickly you will adapt.
Get injury free. Pounding the pavement, and specifically the concrete, can be very hard on the legs. It is something we certainly need to get used to if we are going to make it through a marathon but trails can break up the monotony. The ups and downs and weaving back and forth strengths the accessory muscles that keep us from getting injured.
It’s a mental break. Get out of the rut. How many times do we do the same 8 mile loop over an over? Maybe it’s convenient or just easy. New scenery keeps the mind engaged and makes the miles fly by.
Just remember to take care of yourself out there. Take a map, find a friend and take a little extra water and nutrition on a trail run. It comes in handy if I happen to get lost. But shake up the routine: get out there and get dirty this summer!