Running is my escape from the work world. I love being away from the streets, cars and the pacing of stoplights. Running free, for me, is escaping into the forest where the soft dirt, green trees and blue waters are. At least when I was in Oregon, (Arizona trails are a little more brown with a bunch of loose rocks and cacti), where the Pacific Northwest is filled with beautiful forestry. Running on the trails, no matter where you live geographically, is a great way to mix up your training routine especially for those long runs where the road just never seems to end.
Now you are probably thinking, well the Eugene Marathon course is flat and fast. Why would I want to run on the trails to train for this race? Good question. I have an answer for that. Trail running has a lot of benefits. You get stronger lower limbs. As in your hips, glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings are always working. The surface is softer making you work harder than if you were on the roads running on the nice paved even surface. Your mind is constantly thinking about where your next footsteps will be placed rather than the pace that you are going or how much time/miles you have left until you are done with the run. Warning, trail running is just as addicting as regular road running so be sure to pay attention to my favorite running tips so you can be prepared for your next trail run adventure!
Always let someone know where you will be going when you take yourself out on an adventure through the forest. Even better, take a running mate with you for double the fun! But really you should always let someone know where you will be going in case of an emergency, weather concern or nature mishap. Safety is very important!
Hydration is key! Whether it is a long hike or an easy run you want to be properly hydrated. It may be raining constantly during those winter months leading up to the Eugene Half Marathon but stay hydrated and your muscles will thank you. Muscle cramping while running uphill, or downhill, is not fun. Muscle cramps are more common than you think when running on the trails. My favorite way to stay hydrated is bringing an electrolyte drink and salt tabs so that I get an adequate sodium intake for my longer runs.
Which leads me to my next topic: gear check. Just like how you buy nice shoes for training runs versus racing you want shoes just for the trails. Trail shoes have nice grips on the bottoms to help with traction on those loose rocks during the drier months of training, as well as plowing through the mud that is usually covering the trails during the rest of the year.
Staying on the topic of gear check, bring extra socks. Maybe even a few, because driving home with wet socks sucks. No one wants to have cold feet. So I highly recommend sticking some extra socks in your car for when you are finished with your run or even putting some in your bag if hiking to prevent blisters. Your feet will appreciate you!
Lastly have fun. Make the most of your training and have fun exploring new areas. Eugene has a lot of great trails to run on when you come out for race weekend. Get outside, the mountains are waiting.