What a beautiful Tuesday we have here. I’m not “in the office” today, because Tuesdays are
going to be my designated days to personal train clients. I also managed to sqeeze-in a pretty sweet workout of my own. With the sun shining, and the air crisp – I decided to go for a trail run. It’s been a while since I’ve identified myself as a runner, since running is no longer my primary mode of activity. But, it still feels great to get them in!
I planned to run 3 miles – a modest distance, and I had my Garmin to track stats. My overall pace was around 10:25/ mile. Not too shabby for a hilly run.
While I was running, I began thinking about the benefits of trail running and how it compares to road running. Three main advantages of trail running came to mind:
1) Joint stability: The obvious factor is that trail ground is much softer for landing on than pavement. So, the force exerted onto your joints will be less. Secondly, when you’re running on uneven ground, the small muscles surrounding your ankle and knee joints have to work harder to keep you stable. These are muscles that you wouldn’t typically use on level ground. Strengthening them is fantastic because it means a more stable joint, and a lower chance of injury. Unless you twist your ankle on the uneven ground. The lesson here is to BE CAREFUL, and your joints will reap the benefits.
2) For the most part, you’re isolated: It’s easier to focus solely on your running when there’s nobody else around. It’s normal to feel more self-aware when there are cars and people passing by you. When you’re alone, you don’t have to moderate your behaviour based on things happening around you. Relax, take a breath, and run.
*** carry a cell phone in your pocket for emergencies if you’re alone***
3) Research shows “Green Exercise” enhances mood: Exercising in nature has added mental health benefits! Harvard Medical School confirms this in an article they published saying: “Researchers at the University of Essex in England are advancing the notion that exercising in the presence of nature has added benefit, particularly for mental health. Their investigations into “green exercise,” as they are calling it, dovetails with research showing benefits from living in proximity to green, open spaces. In 2010 the English scientists reported results from a meta-analysis of their own studies that showed just five minutes of green exercise resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood.” For outdoor endurance athletes, this would make a whole lot of sense. Think about a mountain biker who has to train indoors during off-season, or a runner who runs outdoors most of the year. The thought of biking or running at a gym is often less appealing.
There you have it!
After my 3-mile (converts to 4.8km) trail run, I headed to the pool for some laps… 2km to be exact. No two combinations of exercise makes me feel better than running + swimming. Both activities use completely opposite muscle groups, so it’s ideal for a total body challenge. I’ve incorporated swimming into my routine twice/week for the last month, and my stroke is finally starting to feel good again. I think I’ll post a “swimming for beginners” training plan later this week!
Once all of the fun was over, I had lunch. Today it was a newly-named Tasty Plate. I’ve made them before, but never knew what to call it. It’s pretty much a plate of healthy finger food that I make when I don’t feel like a salad or any other routine lunches.
My plate: salami, turkey pepperette, swiss cheese, carrots, cucumber, red-pepper hummus, and a nectarine on the side.
Any trail runners out there with tips for me?