Written by XX2i Optics Athlete Natasha LaBeaud Anzures. Natasha holds the Canadian National Record for the 15k distance, and continues to inspire healthy living and active lifestyles through her non-profit, 2nd Recess.
Why you should occasionally get off the roads!
I love trails. There is something so magical about weaving around a trail, feeling the dirt shifting underneath your feet as you move. The hills act as a human-propelled version of a rollercoaster, allowing you to cautiously make your way up, and then glide down as the wind rushes through your hair. Plus, you have ultimate freedom as you choose your “path.” Which way will you go through the switch-forks? One right turn might lead to you to an epic uphill, while a shift left might lead you to a bubbling stream.
And, if that isn’t enough for you, when you finish a trail run, you have the mud marks decorating your backside as a reward for your outdoor accomplishments.
Trail running allows for you to change scenery from hard impact surfaces, such as pavement, sidewalks, or even tracks. The uneven footing of the trails can allow you practice balance and shifting as you move, which are valuable skills to practice and refine. In addition, you can increase your mental health while hitting the trails, as differing terrain allows for you to stop ruminating and illicit new thoughts.
On a personal level, I have turned to the trails on several occasions when I need to clear my mind and focus on a simple task of placing one foot in front of another. One of my favorite trails leads me to the top of a hill where I can absorb various views of Balboa Park and Morley Field, allowing me to feel like I am being transported into a painting. Combine this with a foggy morning or rain, and I am in heaven. I can smell fresh eucalyptus mixed with the earthy smell of mud, and I truly feel like I am being powered by nature. How can you top that?
If you have hesitations about trying out the trails, just make a plan of starting small. You don’t need to go for an ultrarun during your first trail session. Find a trail and plan to go for a short run. While there are specific trail running shoes that you can purchase, they are not necessary, and you can always purchase them at a later date if they seem like they would be a good fit for you. One of the best parts about running is that very little gear is required-- you don’t need to change up your gear, just some shorts and a top will do, and you can be on your way.
There are countless trails to explore, countless steps to be taken, and countless paths that can allow your brain to run free while you do too.
Photo Credit: Jeff Dougherty