Why Trail Running is Awesome

A few days ago Scott Jurek announced he would be running the Appalachian Trail as a last hurrah before retiring. In other sports, icons tend to make a slow descent into irrelevance, trying to hold on to their stardom as their physical skills fade. In Jurek’s case, he’s going to do something few others would even contemplate: leaving on a high note. Even if he doesn’t break a record, he’ll still accomplish something few else can claim. (By the way, if you don’t know what the Appalachian Trail is, read this).

I was thinking about Jurek, and the difference between running on trails and roads, and why I enjoy trail races so much this morning as I ran a short loop in a park right in downtown Rochester. I imagined slipping through the mountains, all by myself…probably dead in twenty minutes at Jurek’s pace.

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Trail Running is Not Boring. Trail running is a forward-moving mental puzzle. Step here? Look out for that root! Mud? No, horse crap! Jump! Oh no, a puddle!

Trail Running Puts You in Touch. You’re among the trees, with animals moving about, branches to duck and sights to see. Even if I’m racing, I have to slow down and look around more. It’s very Zen. And a good excuse to rest.

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Trail Running is Easy(er) on the Joints. You are not pounding your ankles, knees and hips into fine dust on the concrete. Sure, you could trip on a rock and face plant into a tree, but hey, where’s the fun if there’s no risk?

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Trail Running gets Messy. Seems like almost everyone is doing a 5k these days, and good for them. But if you want to take it up a notch, run trails. Nothing says “I’m having fun” like freezing mud up to your knees.

Happy trails!

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