trail running: a fit & a benefit

Trail running.

This is an activity I can very honestly say that I plan to do for the rest of my life.

I resisted the temptation of regularly running on trails for a LONG time.  For years I saw it as something that I would do “later in life.”  I would imagine myself in my 40s, 50s and 60s, going for long runs through the woods for hours and hours either by myself or with a good friend.  Stopping along the way to have a picnic or take a nap by a creek.  It wasn’t for NOW, it was for LATER.  Something to look forward to.  I honestly didn’t think I could be the kind of runner I wanted to be out on the roads if I was also running on the trails.  It was like if I were to commit to one, that meant NOT committing to the other.  What in the world was I thinking?  Silly, silly me.

I do not see it that way anymore.  At. All.

How can I be my whole, truest self if I am ignoring a part of me?  If I am postponing something that my heart is calling me to?  Every single time I have run on the trails I have felt so at peace.  So happy.  So grateful be there.  In love.   Why not do more of it!?

Running on the trails is making me a better overall runner.  Without a doubt.  Over the last couple of months I’ve been getting out in the woods about once a week for 10-12 miles, sometimes by myself and sometimes with my buddies, and I can tell that this kind of running is balancing me out and strengthening me in more ways than one.  Different muscles are being recruited and utilized for stability and balance.  My mind is being engaged in a whole new way.  I find myself inspired and rejuvenated when I’m out on the trails.  It fits into my Boston training perfectly as “active recovery” and is helping me press an internal reset button each and every week.

I crave my time in the woods and look forward to getting out there every week.  And I am loving every second of it.

Trail running holds a very special place in my heart.  A place that I can tell is going to grow and grow as time goes on.  Deep inside, I think I’ve known this for a long time but only recently am I really just opening myself up to it.  I am so thankful to have found a way to change my perspective about when and how to spend more time on the trails.  To see now that spending time running out on the trails can not only fit into my training, but that it can BENEFIT and actually become an essential part of my training in so many ways as well.

Do you love trail running like I do?  Do you incorporate both trail and road running into your training schedule?  If you live in the DC area, where are your favorite trails to run on and explore?  Favorite trail races around here?

14 thoughts on “trail running: a fit & a benefit

  1. I ran my first trail race on Sunday. I have never felt so amazing in my life. It scares me because the potential for injury is so great and I'm less than 3 weeks out from a half, but I absolutely love it. I love that I don't feel the need to put pressure on myself as far as pace.

  2. I definitely agree that trail running helps to create balance for any runner. It's so great for strength building and also for mental clarity. I love it and need to do more of it!

  3. I love trail running. Like you, I need it for mental sanity. I come from Colorado, so it's been really tough for me to adjust to the DC city life, so trail running is like my escape back to nature. I'm starting to record different trail runs on my blog…I've had trouble finding good maps/information on different trail runs, so I'm slowly starting to compile some of them. Maybe you could share with me some of your favorites? So far I really like Great Falls (MD side), the Potomac Heritage Trail, Seneca Creek Trail, and Glover Park/Battery Kimble.

  4. I am not much of a trail runner. Mostly because I fell really bad in a trail race and cracked my knee open, knocked the wind out of myself AND broke my garmin watch. The whole race was an epic fail. It was back in 2009 and I haven't stepped foot on a trail since. Another reason why I shy away from trails is because I don't have a group to run with so running by myself out in the middle of nowhere would be really scary for me. :/

  5. I feel like I could have written this post. I feel the exact same way as you do. I always imagine myself older, running through the forest =) I LOVE trail running so much and am always SO worried that it's going to take away from marathon training – but as you said – it actually does make you a stronger runner.
    I love that your trail runs are usually super long AND after your long run each week. You are just amazing =)

  6. There is a fabulous half marathon in Fountainhead Regional Park down in Occoquan in September. It is put on by the Virginia Happy Trails running club. It is a well-established race, and is well organized and all-around wonderful. I ran it last year (it was my first trail race of any stripe), and without a doubt, it was the most challenging race I have ever done. My legs were sore for days. But it was so much fun, and everyone was so supportive and happy to be there. I can't say enough good things about it.

  7. I've recently started trail running in the last 6 months and am running my first trail race in the beginning of March. Yay! What I love the most about trail running is that it just reminds you why you love to run and why you started in the first place. All the pressure of hitting certain times and mile splits fades away because the focus is different. Just you, the outdoors, and the beauty around you. I love that it brings back the perspective I sometimes need in the middle of a hectic training week.

  8. I don't trail run that much but I'm into yoga. I think both activities are helpful and healthy for our body, it makes the circulation of each and every system in our body effective and in normal pace.

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