“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” – Ed Abbey
Cactus Ed certainly had deeper implications when he coined this phrase, namely the encroachment of civilization on our wilderness and our natural resources; but as urban dwellers with several inches of asphalt separating our daily lives from the natural world, our human spirit cries out in agreement of our need for wilderness on a very personal, visceral level. We, especially as runners and walkers, want to get outside and enjoy nature!
Memphians are privileged to have access to miles of wooded trails in which to get out and fulfill, on some level, that necessity of wilderness. There are several systems of trails in the city proper and in surrounding areas that make for plenty of options for getting away from the concrete jungle and into the trees. There are few better ways to spend a day than with a trail run followed by drinks with friends!
Following are a few tips to help you become comfortable with the idea of moving some of your runs away from the pavement, or the treadmill, and to the dirt. Be careful out there, you may find that your spirit soars to heights that will challenge you physically and mentally in ways you never imagined. At that point you’ll begin to understand just how necessary wilderness is.
BE SAFE – Run with friends or a canine companion. If running alone is the only option, let someone know where you are running. Always be mindful of your surroundings.
YOU’RE IN NO HURRY – Allow more time for trail runs, as the terrain will slow your pace. Avoid letting frustration take over because of the slowed pace. Enjoy the time. Take in your surroundings. It’s not always about pace and distance.
KNOW AND UNDERSTAND TRAIL RUNNING ETIQUETTE – Yield to other trail users. Say hello or good morning. Stay on the designated trails and do not create new trails. That means run straight through mud puddles. Not around them. And… DO NOT LITTER!
TRAIL RUNNING TECHNIQUE – Run with a shorter stride in an effort to keep your feet beneath you and maintain balance. Always look 10 to 15 feet down trail in order to see any obstacles in your path and to pick the best line.
WHO DOESN’T LOVE GEAR? – The trail running world is home to some of the coolest gear imaginable. And most of it superfluous. Of course that doesn’t stop us from wanting it! Your regular running shoes will suffice on our local trails. Be sure to carry some fluids with you. Sunglasses can protect your eyes from trees and shrubs.
HAVE FUN! – That one should go unsaid but we all need reminding. Get outside, take some deep breaths, and simply enjoy the natural world around you. Be curious. Check out local foliage and wildlife. Stop and soak it all in every now and again.
LOCAL TRAIL SYSTEMS: Shelby Farms Park, Wolf River Bottom Trails, Overton Park, Stanky Creek, Herb Parsons Lake, Harvester Park, Collierville Greenway Trails.
Feb is the General Manager and Footwear Buyer at Fleet Feet Sports and race director for the coolest trail race in town, Wade’s Big Adventure, happening Oct. 30 at 8am.