So you’re considering taking up trail running, but aren’t sure if you’re ready? We definitely want to encourage that. There’s nothing like going off-road. Here are a few things you’ll discover if you do.

RELATED: Things trail runners say

It’s a chance to get your nature on

Much has been written on how running benefits our brains as well as our bodies; some studies show that running in nature benefits the brain even more than running in the city. You’re bound to see some interesting wildlife and birds, and who wouldn’t rather breathe in the scent of wildflowers than bus fumes? And with all that birdsong, who knows, you might even leave your earbuds at home and embrace the sounds of nature.

You’re already out there, so why not switch it up?

We could be mistaken, but we suspect very few people take up trail running who have never run before. Most people start on the roads, and then hear about this thing called “trail running” and they want to give it a try. So there’s really not much new learning happening; if you can run on the road, you can run on a trail. It’s the same activity, more or less, even if one has more tree roots. 

You might seriously boost your fitness level

We almost forgot to mention: trail running involves serious ups and downs in elevation. The word to describe this is “technical,” and you’ll soon find out it is sometimes a euphemism used to describe scrambling on your hands and knees, grasping at anything that’ll hold you as you try to ascend terrain that was clearly not designed for bipeds.

The swag at trail races

Trail races offer some of the grooviest swag out there. And we’re not just talking massive belt buckles. Trail races have partnered with everything from brewers to potters to beekeepers to wrought-iron workers in the search for unique trail race souvenirs and prizes. (And no, you don’t have to run 250K through the Sahara desert to earn it. Though that option is available.)

You can choose and train for a variety of distances

Did we lose you just then, with talk of 250K races? No worries. Though many ultramarathons are run on trails, trail running is not synonymous with ultramarathoning. There are trail races as short as 5K, as long as 380 miles (the 6693 Ultra, from the Eagle Plains Hotel on the Klondike Highway to Tuktoyaktuk), and just about everything in between. So no, you do not have to run a marathon. Or an ultramarathon. Unless you want to.

You’ll meet some interesting folks

Dedicated trail runners are a special bunch. And we admit that some become so hard-core that they look down their noses at road runners. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

 

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