First things first:

Go Watch This Right Now.

I love running. I’ll run nearly anywhere. I’ve even mentioned before how much I enjoy running through new cities as a way to see them. That having been said, I find myself increasingly drawn away from all the roads and sidewalks and towards the trails. I think the above linked short film does a fairly remarkable job of explaining the reasons why without ever speaking a word. I, on the other hand, don’t currently have the time or resources for a short film of my own, so words will have to suffice. And maybe a photo or two…

Trails: better than Suburbia.

Trails: better than Suburbia.

See that? That’s a photo I took on a trail run with the girlfriend a couple weeks ago. It was only five miles, but I think it was one of the most enjoyable runs we’ve ever been on together. When you leave the noise and traffic of the roads you can afford to be much more present with your running and those you run with. When you are distracted, it’s not because you don’t entirely trust the invisible fence keeping that dog from inspiring an unplanned fartlek session, it’s because you want to stop and admire everything around you. And when we run through such places, pushing our bodies, we often find that we’re no longer observing but taking an active role in the nature around us. By this simple act of running we can somehow become less civilized (in a good way!).

So if you’ve read this far and aren’t nodding knowingly you may be tempted to give the whole trail running a try. If so here are some tips and caveats:

  • If you think there aren’t any trails near you, you’re probably mistaken.
Ooooohhhh pretty....

Ooooohhhh pretty….

This is another photo from our run the other week. What you may not realize is that these were both taken within the city limits of Philadelphia. If places like this exist within the limits of the fifth largest city in the country, I’m very confident you can find something where you live.

  • Carry more than you would for an equivalent road run. This is doubly the case for an insulin dependent diabetic.

If you’re on the road and you step off a curb and turn an ankle, the odds of starving to death or being eaten by a bear (or Grue) are still remarkably low. Depending on how far out you go, something as simple as a turned ankle can become life threatening on the trails. Carry at least some nutrition, water, and phone. Diabetics should consider a test kit and additional carbs.

  • Don’t forget to enjoy the view.

Seriously. That’s the whole point! If you don’t slow down (or even stop!) every now and again to take in the air and the scenery, you may as well stick with the (probably) far more convenient roads.

Running, or any exercise for that matter, can be viewed as a chore to be slogged through or an end unto itself. Enjoy the journey.

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2 Responses to Trails.

  1. Running trails is fun, but it’s funny how different it is than running the roads. I’m a decent road runner. I’m a terrible trail runner. Racing on trails is even more humbling. I’m running the Double Trouble Trail Race this weekend Morgantown, PA
    It’s a 15k loop that you can run once or twice (hence the name). I’m a 3:26 marathoner, and my average pace on this trail run was 9:42/mile.
    The folks who run it have an entire circuit of trail races and every one of them is an amazing workout…as long as you don’t get hurt.

    • My first ever trail race was with Pretzel City in 2008 I think. It was 19 degrees and there was 6 inches of snow on the ground. It was the hardest race I had ever done up until then and I absolutely loved it!

      Good to hear from you Brian!


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