Charmaine M Gittens talks about her passion for, and the unique benefits of, running off the beaten path.
Running is a great way to exercise! It has many benefits for our mental and physical wellbeing, as well as spending quality time away from our desks, getting moving and taking time out from a busy schedule. One of the great things about trail running is that first and foremost you don’t have to pay a gym membership fee! Getting some fresh air and exercise away from road running is also a great way to enjoy some downtime away from the everyday pressures of life and urban environment.
Trail running is very different to road running and can offer softer terrain for anyone concerned about the dreaded shin splints or risk of injury! On or after rainy days can be an added challenge when the trail itself can become slippy and have less grip. The trails I like to cover range in distance and terrain, so I use a free app created by Under Armour called Map My Run that offers GPS tracking of all the running routes and includes a summary of the distance covered, elevation gain, average and maximum pace. A great feature of the app is that you can also share your routes with family and friends. Trail running offers beautiful scenery and varying terrain, unlike road running on tarmac surfaces and sometimes in traffic. I enjoy the sense of peace and freedom and there is never any pressure, you can simply enjoy the trail, take some time out of your schedule away from your desk and get the body moving which is a great stress buster!
Even if you are new to running and want to try a trail run give it a go, there are numerous running clubs dotted around if you prefer to be with others. Sometimes I run with other people and most of the time I trail run with my dogs, which often involves trying not to fall over whilst tripping over them running a lot faster than me! It’s always good to layer up as well as if it does rain, it’s good to ensure that you have a lightweight rain jacket - unless you don’t mind running in the rain of course and dependant on the seasons.
I like to wear good trail running trainers and lightweight running clothing so that I don’t overheat during the run or get too cool post run and enjoy a good recovery stretch afterwards. Trail running is an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise and take a break from screen-time and sitting at a desk. It’s more or less a case of select a trail run location, prepare and give it a go! The most important thing is to have fun and decompress for a time.
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