I love nothing more than being deep in the woods and away from all the distractions of life.
The feeling of bombing down steep single track with trees whizzing by and only the sound of your own footsteps hitting the trail.
The rush of sprinting into the dark and damp woods at the beginning of a trail race so you don’t get stuck in traffic at the first water crossing.
That pump of adrenalin as you reach a crest and a spectacular view opens up below you.
I am definitely a confirmed trail runner.
Here’s the problem…
I live in the city, just three miles from the center of Downtown Atlanta, and the majority of my running happens in town. If you include drive time, a long run in the mountains eats up an entire day and that’s something I can only afford to do about once a month. So, how do I satiate my hunger for trails while also keeping the legs in shape for the demands of trail running?
I’ve spent hours on Google Maps looking for intown parks that might have trails I can incorporate into my runs and have found a surprising number of them (see Urban Dirt for maps of some of these). If I’m out for a run and I’m anywhere near one of these, I’ll duck in to add a mile or two of trail.
If there’s grass or dirt alongside the pavement, I’ll run on the natural surface to keep my joints used to uneven terrain.
If I see what looks like a hidden path or trail, I leave the pavement and explore.
On every run, I hop onto walls, climb steps, cut across vacant lots, climb overpass embankments and jump park benches to vary my stride and pace.
None of these are quite as much fun as mountain trail running, but they certainly help ease the withdrawal.