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Why all runners should also be trail runners

By Trevor Wood, Assistant Merchandise Manager

As a runner, I want to do the best that I can whenever I race. How do I do that? Not only would I advise joining a training group or social running group, but I would suggest cross training, as it can only benefit you. People have this stigma that if you do other activities you may injure yourself along the way and ruin your running plan for that season. There is a slight chance, but if you’re smart about it you’ll only make yourself stronger. Plus, it’s a change of scenery (literally) and it works different muscles throughout your whole body!

So what am I talking about? Well, I can go into the swimming, bicycling or crossfit/bootcamps of the world, but today I want to discuss running through the woods. Yup. Trees, fields, dirt, mud pits, bogs, gravel roads, all of the above. Trail running is not only a great workout, it can be a great stress reliever as you’re putting yourself into a different mindset. You have to pay attention to where you are placing your foot, but you’re also allowing your mind to be in tune with the environment around you. You can start to feel the breeze on your skin or the sunshine hitting your face. Heck, if it’s raining and there’s enough tree cover, you might just find a dry path to run on!

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I know, running trails might take some getting used to but once you do, you realize you can achieve anything. The constant climbs and descents with a flat path in between keeps your legs guessing at how they’re going to get worked out that day. You might decide to walk up the hills, and that’s okay. Either way, your legs are now having to utilize energy differently than they would on the asphalt. Which brings me to another point, the force your body experiences is lessened when running on softer ground! Guess what joints? You might like your runner’s body more after a few miles on dirt than you would after running on asphalt.

Plus, here in Michigan in the fall and winter we have some pretty inclimate weather so it might be cold and wet, so what’s a good solution for those situations? GORE-TEX®! Here’s a brief blurb about this amazing product: GORE-TEX® products are durably waterproof and windproof combined with optimized breathability. So you can muster up the courage to run through puddles, and if it’s raining your feet will stay dry. This is perfect for trail running since the ground may be wet.

If you are working up the courage to do a trail run, I encourage you to attend one of Gazelle Sports’ Dirty Herd runs which typically meet on the weekends. They are helpful to beginner trail runners and can offer some challenges to more advanced trail runners. Who knows, maybe you’ll love trails so much you’ll turn into one of those people who run races farther than a marathon… an ultra marathoner! Anyone want to do a 100 miler with me?

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