I often get puzzled looks when I tell someone that I ran Bear Canyon Loop last weekend or I ran the Wilderness of Rocks trail on Mount Lemmon with some friends. Then comes the "You did what?!" response. I then try to help them understand that you can run on rocky, steep, isolated mountain trails. After that bit of information is shared the next question is usually "Why?"
Why trails? Well let me name a few reasons why. Cars, Trucks, Dogs, Fumes, Pavement, Sidewalks and Noise to name a few.
Running a mountain trail can clear your mind and invigorate your spirit. Often the shear beauty of some of our mountain vistas makes the entire effort worthwhile. Running trails gets you into remote locations where few people ever visit. The variety of terrain creates a running workout that no street, sidewalk or track run can come close to. Is it tuff to do? Of course it is. I would not recommend a beginner runner take on Bear Canyon for their first trail run. Start easy.
If you want to try trail running I suggest you go with a group. There are a few local groups that run trails every weekend. Make sure you let them know it is your first time and you want to learn how to approach it. There are a few differences between street and trail. Trails can be extremely long in distance so don't try to take on a 20 miler for your first one. Most Tucson trails are very rocky which requires you to focus on where you are going to make you next foot plant. Rocks are almost always present and can cause you to suddenly become horizontal if you catch a toe on one. If the temperature is just right our friendly squiggly creatures can be sharing the trail with you. Some of those squiggly critters can bite so be aware.
Trail running also offers you an opportunity to buy new stuff. You might only have a single water bottle carrier. With Tucson's temperatures you may want to consider a double water bottle carrier or a Hydration pack. Take a good look at your shoes. Because of the rugged conditions on Tucson's trails, trail shoes should be considered. There are many different brands and styles of trail shoes. Tread patterns, foot protection and lacing designs should all be considered. I recommend a visit to your local Fleet Feet dealer to get a properly fitted, correctly designed trail shoe.
Start easy, enjoy the outdoors and do it often. Trail running is an advanced sport that requires an understanding of the area where you plan to run. There are many sources for trail maps that help you select and plan your trail run. Why there are even electronic devices available that will record your every mile, turn and elevation change. Once you return home you can download the GPS data and see a great topographical map of where you ran, how far you ran, elevation gain and elevation loss.
Go ahead. Contact ESTANDA or any of the other trail running groups and get involved in this fantastic sport. Get away from the Cars, Trucks, Dogs, Fumes, Pavement, Sidewalks and Noise to name a few.
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