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Get Off the Pavement!!!

by Weldon Johnson

People, get off the pavement!!! If you're constantly injured or bored with your running, you probably can cure your problem by running on trails. The majority of us grow up running on roads, and think trails running isn't for us, but trust me, if a kid who grows up running on exhaust filled, flat, square blocks can learn to love trail running so can you.

I must admit that I too was skeptical of trail running. In college, I thought the kids who wanted to run on trails were stupid because it would slow us down or we could twist or ankles. When I heard a trail running magazine was coming out, I laughed. Now however, I run 95% of my miles on trails.

Why the conversion??? First, the pure enjoyment of running in nature. I must admit, I am a bit spoiled being able to run in National Forest's in Flagstaff Arizona. But whether I see a gigantic elk, a little prairie dog, or just the pine trees in the forest, the wonders of nature make me appreciate much more the pure simple joy of running. For the ability to run is one of the simplest gifts from God. Running in nature is a very humbling and uplifting experience at the same time. The natural world constantly remind me of how small I am in the big scheme of things. At the same time, however, I appreciate much more the wonderful gift I possess, the ability to run free.

Running should be one of the highlights of your day. If you think distance running is torture and only something you do for health, you obviously don't "get it" and perhaps need a smart training program. However, if you're bored with your running, running on trails can be the answer to your solution. Often, all we need to jump start our running is a new loop on trails where we are forced to enjoy the beauties of nature.

I can already here the complaints from some of you. Those of you constantly searching for your next p.r. are probably worried about running slower on trails than on the pavement. I'm not telling you to do your hard runs on trails, but your easy runs. Easy days are supposed to be days of recovery, where running is pure enjoyment. These are the days to run on trails.

But I'll injure myself running on trails. True, the chance of turning an ankle (or being bitten by a snake or the victim of some other natural calamity) is much higher when we are off of pavement, but all in all running on trails is much better for your body than the pavement. Go and drop and golf ball on concrete. Next, go and drop the ball on the dirt. Now imagine the force, that shot the golf ball up from the pavement, shooting up your leg every time you place it on the concrete. Repeat this about 1200 times for each mile you run and you get the picture.

Running on trails and grass is much better for you if you want to avoid overuse injuries. Plus, running on trails can have a positive training effect. Not only does it strengthen your ankle joints, but it strengthens your mitochondria.....ask Kellogg. One of the main benefits of training at altitude that is overlooked is that most runners are forced to train on trails.

Now granted, some of you who live in big cities, are already saying that you can't run on trails every day. True, but you can do it much more than you think. And even if you can't find a trial, I'm sure you can go on a more scenic loop. Running is supposed to be enjoyable, so you might as well make an effort to make it as enjoyable as possible. Go and hit the trails!

We hope that you'll share with us your favorite places to run. Send us a good description and any pictures, or maps you want to include, so we can share these with others. Click here to email us your favorites runs.

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