Okay, so you have been running for a while now… that’s amazing! Maybe you just did your first 5k? You are a total badass! Maybe you are training for your first marathon? Hell yeah!
But did you know there is a whole sub-culture of running that is kind of weird, really hard, and so much fun? Strap on your Yak Tracks… we are going trail running!
Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Try Trail Running:
- It’s really stinking hard. And it never stops getting harder. I had been running for years and had a few marathons under my belt when I decided to sign up for my first trail 15k with a friend. “No problem! It’s just 9 miles! I am a marathon runner!” Ha. I got my ass kicked. Even though I could probably make it through that 15k now, the amazing thing about trail running is that every course is different. Just when you think you’ve got the 15k handled, add some extra elevation to that same course and it’s a whole different beast. Trail running is so challenging and it never stops being hard!
- It has a weird and amazing community. Trail runners are weird and they are cool with that. While there is, of course, a sub-community of very competitive, serious trail runners, the majority of people are out there to have a good time and have a few laughs while doing it. Most people you pass on the trails want to at least say hi, if not chat. And when it comes to races, it’s not uncommon to find people in crazy outfits or at least socks (depending on the race, of course). In my experience, trail running fosters a much more inclusive community than road running does. Not that I don’t love a good group of road runners, but trail runners are really just so friendly and welcoming.
- It will make your butt look good. All those hills ain’t for nothing! The kind of shape you get in from trail running vs. road running is completely different! While road running can certainly build endurance and keep you in shape, trail running makes you so strong and fit. There’s nothing like looking AND feeling good!
- The gear is pretty cool. Any excuse to wear toe socks is fine in my book! There is so much cool gear that you can get for trail running, much of it out of necessity, and much of it for fun. You do need to wear and carry different gear than you would for road running, since you will often find yourself pretty far away from civilization. Luckily, gear manufacturers have found ways to make necessary gear cool and functional for trail runners.
- It’s an adventure! Every time we go for a trail run, it feels like a huge adventure. Whether it is just a 5 mile run on my lunch on our neighborhood trail or a 25 mile weekend run, trail running is like a sped up, lighter weight backpacking trip. You never know what you will see or experience, which is all part of the fun!
- You will learn a lot about your mental endurance. I have cried more times than I would like to admit while trail running. But through all the really low times, I have also mustered all my mental strength and pushed through when things get really hard. I still have really rough running days, but trail running has taught me to be tough and confident in what I am really capable of. I would like to think that this mental fortitude has carried over in to all parts of my life!
- You are supposed to walk (I mean, “power hike”). When Adam and I ran our first trail race in Bend, we went out to the course for a few weeks before the race and tried to train to run the entirety of the first, huge hill. Well, when we actually got to the race, we discovered that we were the only dummies trying to run the whole thing! It turns out you are supposed to power hike the hilly parts! The general rule of thumb is to run the flat and downhill sections and power hike the uphills. This is a sport that encourages walking, and I dig that.
- The food is amazing. If you have ever run a road race, you know that aid stations are full of Gu gels and bananas. I’m not complaining, but it’s hardly fine dining. Trail run aid stations are amazing. There is candy, there are cookies, there are sandwiches, there is fruit, there are pretzels! Every snack food your heart desires can be yours if you step off the road and on to the trails!
- Trail running and beer go hand in hand. Trail runners love their beer and almost every post-race celebration is a testament to that. This is a sport that encourages beer drinking. Need I say more?
- It’s so much fun! If you look at the pictures from a trail race, you will notice that everyone is smiling! Even though it is really, really hard, it is a blast and worth every challenge you face!