Sunday, May 4, 2014

Trail Running: Benefits, Tips, and Safety!

I decided on my recent trail run through Phoneline Trail in Sabino Canyon, that if I could trail run every day - I would.

But it takes at least 20 minutes to get to a trail from my house. And let's face it - if I did this every day I'd be a pile of ace wraps and ibuprofen.

Friday morning my girlfriend and I did a 9.3 mile trail run through Sabino Canyon. It's this beautiful canyon north of the Foothills of Tucson - that is supposed to have a stream that cuts through it. Most years it has running water from about December-May. This year, unfortunately, it's quite dry because Mount Lemmon didn't get snow. *insert rant about my serious concerns about our drought and how people of Tucson need to start making efforts to conserve water and we need to do rain water harvesting this monsoon season so we don't further dry out what's left of our water table*

Let me step off my soap box and get back to trail running.

9.3 miles of trail running is a challenge - and here are a few things I've found that help with trail running!

  • It is best to trail run with a buddy. Not always possible, but trail running can put you far out in low-traveled trails. It's just safer to have someone with you.
  • Invest in some trail-running shoes. I rock a pair of Solomans. They have better treads to handle the uneven ground. 
  • If you're starting to get really fatigued, take a break! On pavement, you can keep putting one foot in front of the other. Trail running? You have to be agile, and step around rocks (and cacti in AZ). It's not worth falling because you were too stubborn to stop.
  • Yes I've done the above. It kind of sucks.
  • Bring water! (kind of a no-brainer)
  • You will find it is actually easier on your body than pavement.
  • Be careful about headphones!!! Especially if the trails are narrow. You need to be able to hear people trying to pass you or snakes trying to bite your ankles ;)
  • If you're concerned about "critters" (aka snakes) - make noise. They typically are only going to strike if you startle them. ie: step on them, because you were listening to your headphones and not paying attention to where you are stepping.

Just getting started? Here's a few tricks of the trade I've found that help:
  • Loosen up and stretch out your ankles before you head out. Your ankles and Achilles can get beat up a little with all the rocks and sand.
  • Small steps are you key. It's easier to get your footing down if you think *small steps*.
  • When you are ascending up a mountain, it gets tough to run. It also is easy to get discouraged. Set a goal. Start out saying, "I'm going to run 0.2 miles, then rest 20 seconds" Do those repeats. Next time, increase it to 0.5 miles. Just keep increasing your distance without rest until you are able to just keep going!
  • When you start getting exhausted - just look around. It's beautiful. But don't look around too long, or you'll probably trip over a boulder or rock.
  • To help release tension in your feet - roll your feet out on a golf ball. It's like a foam roller for your foot!
  • Breath in the mountains and enjoy!!