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Best Tips for Spring and Summer Trail Running

Wear Trail Running Shoes, Have Fun, and Avoid the Mosquitos and Spider Webs

© 2010 ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

2010 Seabrook Lucky Trails Marathon; photo courtesy Kelly Smith

Considering the summer heat and humidity here in Texas, it makes sense to leave the pavement behind and hit the softer trails. If you are running for a weight loss program, you can’t just bail on your workouts but you can make it more comfortable.

During the summer the heat is always a consideration. Sure, you might be running in the shade but in many situations you miss the cooling breezes due to the trees and underbrush. This can lead to a false sense of complacency. Before hitting the trials, inform yourself of the effects of different ranges of heat on your body.

If you can find shade, and stay properly hydrated, you’ll have a much more satisfying workout. If you’re not yet a trail running aficionado, know that there is a slight but interesting learning curve. Here’s a few handy trail running tips.

Pay close attention to the trail surface. Things like exposed tree roots, partially-embedded rocks, and pesky gravel on steep declines can sideline you in a flash. I’m not saying you have to constantly stare at your flying feet; just pay attention to what’s coming up. Then you can make adjustments as you go along. I generally scan about ten feet ahead.

Run Softly and Carry a Big Stick

The running stick is an important tool if your trail is at all wooded, like Houston’s Challenger 7 Memorial Park. So what’s the purpose? Spider web control. They spin their webs across the trail, presumably because that’s where the bugs fly.

Bigger webs means a bigger bug harvest for a hungry spider. I can’t think of many things to get less excited about than a mouth full of spider meat or a web nailed to my sweaty body. That stuff just won’t let go. Running with a group? Only the lead runner needs a stick. What kind of? I like one with a “Y” shape on one end, similar to a dowsing rod. Hold it up in front of you keeping the “Y” at face level. That won’ help your legs too much, but most of the webs are higher anyway.

Use an Insect Repellant

Keep a small spray bottle of insect repellant in your water belt. Mosquitoes are attracted to trails just like runners are. The incubation period after a recent rain is seven days. They’re not a big problem while you are in motion, but they’ll be on you like white on rice when you pause to climb over a log or take a break.

Wear trail running shoes. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but they are designed for the terrain. I wouldn’t recommend racing flats or worn out shoes in any situation.

Obviously, have fun! It’s no surprise that running trails are dirtier than city streets by nature. Getting dirty is unavoidable if you’re doing it right, so just go with the flow. Mud puddles? Enjoy them like a kid.

These are just a few tips to bring trail nubes up to speed. There’s a great selection of trails in Texas, so take advantage of them and catch some shade.

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