A few weeks after I got back from CDA I started to run on the greenbelt to help with my recovery and to change things up. I quickly realized how good trail running is for my form, my fitness and my mental state. It’s defiantly a great addition to your weekly routine to add some variety to your workouts.
I start at the entrance by Taco Deli and run for about an hour, thirty minutes out and back. There are so many trees that the shade helps keep it cooler than running on the road or even town lake trail. I find that I can run at 5pm without much of a problem.
There are a lot of benefits with trail running. One is that trails are much softer than paved roads and sidewalks, your feet and legs will take less pounding. This is great if you are looking for a recovery run or if you are coming back after an injury. If you wanted too, you could do your long runs on a trail, your body won’t take the wear and tear and you are able to recovery a little more quickly.
Trails are great for improving ankle strength. Since, most trails have an uneven surface they force the tendons around your leg to “stabilize” during foot fall. This is also good with your form. You are almost forced to run on the balls of your feet. Or I should say you quickly learn to run on the balls of your feet to avoid twisting your ankle; which I have on a couple of occasions. You will also need to pay very close attention to where your foot lands to make sure you do not trip on a rock, branch, or something else on the trail.
One of the things I like is that since the trail in uneven you don’t get into a steady pace. You speed up, slow down, I even walk around boulders, which I think is great for your conditioning and it works a lot more of your muscles.
I would make sure you get a supportive shoe. Race flats are not a good ides. The rocks, holes, branches, and crawly things your feet come in contact with you need a little extra support and help protect your feet and ankles. Cross trainers are good, but you really need a trail running shoe.
I would take a couple of precautions. First, make sure you carry water; there is no place on the greenbelt to drink. Secondly, look a map and don’t get lost! Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people on the greenbelt so if you run, don’t run alone. There have been several women over the years attacked. So be careful and use common sense, i.e. no iPods, etc…
So take a break from your normal routine and enjoy the beauty of running in the woods. It’s peaceful and it’s a great benefit to you.