Trail running gets you closer to nature

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2014

On a beautiful Saturday, such as this past Saturday, I am eager to get out and enjoy nature and the weather. I am blessed to have beautiful trails on my land and neighboring land where I can run and ride my horses. As I have mentioned in past columns, I also love Salisbury Community Park, which is on Hurley School Road. The park has wonderful trails besides their beautiful paved path. On Saturday, April 5, we are hosting our 2nd Annual Warrior Way 5K on those trails. It is a major fundraiser for our Youth AAU and USATF Track and Field team to offset the cost to the Junior Olympics, which will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, this summer. We highly encourage walkers, since you will be in awe of how beautiful the trails and surroundings are. At 9 a.m., we will have a half-mile Fun Run first, followed by the 5K, which is 100 percent trails.

Fast Med Urgent Care on Klumac Road and Lazy 5 Vet on U.S. 29 are two major sponsors for this event. For other sponsorship opportunities, please contact me at the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

There are a few things to watch out for if you have never run on a trail before. Our Warrior Way 5K trail run is a very well-marked trail where we spray paint the big roots so they are more visible. However, if you are going to run on another trail, make sure you keep the following in mind:

Know your trails. Walking them first would help you to figure out if it is a good trail to run on. The recommendation is to start with flat trails. Not knowing your terrain can make your chance of injury greater.

• Wear the right shoes. If you run manicured, packed trails, normal running shoes will work. If it is rocky and/or slippery, trail shoes will give you the right traction.

Run with a buddy, especially when your trails are not heavily traveled.

• Slow down your pace. Trail running is harder than road running, so plan fewer and slower miles at first.

• Watch your downhills. Your muscles are already taking a pounding going downhill, but slowing your pace can better prepare you for obstacles.

• Walk if necessary. Even trail racers will walk when getting to a very steep hill or crossing streams or big logs. You won’t have to worry about logs or streams on Salisbury Community Park trails.

When running on trails, adjust your stride, lift your feet and stay focused. When I started trail running, I would get in the zone. Almost each time, I would trip on a root, stick or rock and take a big spill. Paying attention, lifting your feet and adjusting your stride can prevent mishaps (or at least minimize them).

• Do not look down at your feet. Not only will it limit your oxygen intake and put added stress on your back muscles, it keeps you from seeing obstacles up ahead. It is recommended to look about 10 feet ahead on the trail.

When running on community trails, stay to your right. When passing someone, yell loudly, “On your left” (if the person is on the left, yell the opposite).

If the trails you run are shared by horses, ask the rider if it is OK to pass and let them know in advance that you are coming. You don’t want to spook the horse.

I love to run trails. It clears my mind and I love the challenges of jumping logs, watching out for roots and rocks. And my two Australian Shepherds love to go with me.

Trail running actually burns more calories due to the uneven terrain and other challenges you might encounter. Even if you are not planning to do our 5K, check out Salisbury Community Park. It has some outstanding trails for any level of runner. Trail running gets you closer to nature, improves your balance and agility and burns more calories. And I do hope to see you Saturday, April 5!

Ester Marsh ACSM Cpt and Health and Fitness Director JF Hurley family YMCA