How was your weekend?! I hope you had a good AND productive one!! I had a busy weekend and now I'm getting ready to travel to Utah with my family this week! Wooo Whooo!! Utah's such a beautiful state so I've been scouting out some fabulous trails to exercise on while I'm there! Bring fit on...lol :D
Since I have "trails" on the brain, today's post is all about TRAIL RUNNING!
Studies show that exercising in a natural environment improves mood, combats anxiety, and helps you stick to a fitness plan. Sounds good to me :D
The treadmill is unbeatable when it comes to options you can adjust the speed and incline to suit any fitness goal but trail running on the other hand, has inclines and excitement built in! There's just something AWESOME about running in fresh air with birds chirping and leaves rustling that puts a little extra zap in your step! And your muscles, they love a good trail as well!! Thanks to the unstable surfaces, you're constantly adjusting your body from head to toe as you navigate the path, locking in your core and engaging your glutes to steady yourself. "As a result, your muscles get more toned and you burn extra calories," says John Munyak, M.D., director of sports medicine at New York's Maimonides Medical Center.
Trail running is mostly putting 1 foot in front of the other but it's certainly no walk in the park! The following tips can help you run more comfortably so you're not counting down the miles or minutes ;)
1. Shorten your stride uphill. On inclines, take small, quick steps and keep your chest lifted. Leaning over impedes airflow to your lungs.
2. Use your arms. When running on uneven terrain, especially downhill, raise your arms out to the sides (like you would if you were walking on a balance beam) for stability. This is 1 sport where it's okay if your arms flail around a bit.
3. Keep your eyes on the trail. Just like in mountain biking, you need to choose your "line"- the path where you'll place your feet- to follow the smoothest, safest route. Keeping your focus a few feet in front of you will also help you react quickly to obstacles, such as tree roots.
4. Outsmart the wind. A little breeze is part of the trail running experience (extra resistance equals additional calorie burn), but nobody wants to brave a windstorm just to torch more calories! If it's too blustery outside, opt for a densely wooded or hill protected area so you don't end up running in place.
5. Layer your clothes. Even if it's cold out, you'll likely warm up much more then you think. And since many trails dip in and out of trees, or climb to higher elevations, layering allows you to stay comfortable no matter where your feet may take you.
6. Be aware of thin air. Altitude sickness- headache, nausea, loss of appetite- is a risk at 8,000 feet or higher (and sometimes even lower). It's always best to give yourself a few days to acclimate to altitude, then start slowly, drink plenty of fluids, and keep yourself fed (bring a gel or bar). Descend to a lower elevation if you start feeling woozy.
7. Beat the heat. Hydrate before you set out on a run and carry some extra water with you. Try to hit the trails early or late in the day when it's cooler and seek out shady routes.
8. Lace up in the right shoes. Those designed specifically for running tails have a wider, lugged outsole that grips the terrain and sturdier materials to protect your feet from rocks. Some are even waterproof...splashing through puddles is encouraged...lol!
- A trail can be anything from a dirt road to a rocky climb up a mountain.
- If you're not a runner...no worries! Hiking is an alternative :)
- Don't be surprised if you're extra sore after your first trail run! Don't forget to stretch before AND after running!! Also, if you stretch a couple of times a day, for the next few days, it can help alleviate discomfort ;)
You can bet that I'll be exercising on a few AWESOME trails in Utah this week!
Since I'll be out of town, MY NEXT POST will be on Monday, June 22!!
Have a FITastic week :D
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Pamela Stewart, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist