Take on the Trails

By Feb Boswell

“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” Abbey certainly had deeper implications when he coined this phrase, namely the encroachment of civilization on our wilderness and natural resources. As urban dwellers with several inches of asphalt separating our daily lives from the natural world, the human spirit cries out in agreement of our need for wilderness on a very personal level. We, especially as runners and walkers, want to get outside and enjoy nature! How can we do this? Hit the trails!

Memphians are privileged to have access to miles of wooded trails in which to get out and fulfill, on some level, that necessity of being out in the wilderness. There are several systems of trails in the city and in surrounding areas, giving plenty of options for getting away from the concrete jungle and into the trees. There are few better ways to spend a day than on a trail run followed by drinks with friends!

Not only does trail running fulfill a need and longing in your spirit, it can give our body a break from the constant pounding of pavement, and encourage us to use muscles we don’t use on a daily basis. After a day on the trails, the usual joints may not ache, and some muscles that we didn’t even know we had are sore.

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 good for you hitting the trails can be!

BE SAFE – Run with friends or a canine companion. If running alone is the only option, let someone know where you are going. Always be mindful of your surroundings.

YOU’RE IN NO HURRY – Allow more time for trail runs as the terrain will slow your pace. Do not let ego take over and allow for a frustrating run 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, though. 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

Want to try out the trails in a race? Check out Wade’s Big Adventure on October 28 on the Wolf River Trail system. Registration is available at ultrasignup.com.

Do you have questions about getting started or finding a plan to work for you? Stop in and talk to anyone on our staff. We’ll be happy to help!

Feb is the General Manager and Footwear Buyer at Fleet Feet Sports. Most of his decisions are determined by rock, paper, scissors. For more information call (901) 761-0078 or visit our website at fleetfeetmemphis.com.

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