Trail Running: How to Get After It

Running on a trail, that’s really all there is to it. More to it once you’re out there, but that’s for you to find out. My first taste of this activity occurred while doing a portage in Quetico Provincial Park. On a return trip to grab the last of the provisions, I found myself without a 16 foot steel canoe on my shoulders, moving swiftly on a rocky path through the trees. And thought, “Oh, this isn’t bad.” And thought, “What if I were to do this for a few miles? Could be fun.” I finally tried it (10 years later), for 6.4 miles, and it wasn’t fun. Certainly no feelings of “enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure” were had, but it was a thing that I did. And, quite inexplicably, will do more of.

To start, you will require running shoes with deep treads, the will to run, access to trails, and a bit of balance. Trail running is one of those few things that seems to be improved by (afterwards that is), miserable conditions. Mud – great. Rain – even better. Extreme temperatures – oh yes. The course never actually goes downhill – that’s the best. I like to pretend I’m chasing after an unknown and curiously nimble creature that is always just a little too far ahead to get a good look. But if I keep pace, I may have a chance. Which provides sufficient motivation up to a 10K distance; anything farther, I have neither experience nor suggestions. Despite the underlying dissuasive tone, this is actually a recommendation post, and perhaps the links below will persuade you to try running on a trail sometime.

Get on the Trail:

REI Trail Running Class

Trail Run Project – Illinois

Local Races:

Des Plaines River Trail Races

The North Face Endurance Challenge

REI Trail Run Series (check back for 2018 race dates)

Running in the USA Trail Runs

Some real crazy (inspiring?) folks:

The Barkley Marathons Finishers

The Barkley Marathons Movie

Hard Rock 100

Andreas Steindl


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