Last couple of weekends, I headed out to Marin Headlands to run some trails. So far, pretty much all of my marathon training is done on paved city streets, whether it is a flat course or hilly course. Every now and then, when I run 15+ miles, I make it out to Lands End. While it is a beautiful trail, asphalt awaits after a short run (about a mile and half). So, when my new running friend, Evan asked me to try some trails in Marin Headlands, I was totally up for it. The first weekend, we started in Tennessee Valley and ran 8-mile loop of steep ups and downs. The second weekend, we started at Fort Cronkhite and did a 12-mile loop of yet another steep ups and downs. Both days, the weather was perfect for running, and the panoramic views of Marin and the City were constant and awesome. This by far beats running on any city streets, which could get boring pretty quickly.
Ultra runners, like Kilian Jornet, live in the mountains and run the trails all the time. Also, elite marathoners train in high elevation of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, California, etc. and run trail often. So it must be good for marathon training.
For one and what’s obvious is the soft surface of trails. Hundreds of miles I run on asphalt and concrete streets are definitely causing some damages to my (aging!) body parts. Yet, ignorance, inconvenience and ego keep me running on the hard surface.
Secondly, the hills in Marin Headlands are not forgiving and at times seem endless. The first time, the total elevation gain was about 1,800 feet. The second time, it was over 2,600 feet. This definitely strengthens my glutes, calves and quads. I run hills in the city, too. But the hills in Marin Headslands are much more challenging.
Third, one does not have to worry about cars! Neither does one need to deal with traffic lights, bikers, and pedestrians. On the trail, you just keep running and you stop when you need to. There are other hikers, runners, or bikers, but they are hardly an obstacle and they all say ‘Hello!’.
Finally, it is a great change from everyday running on the city streets. Trail running provides different therapy from street running. The clean air, breath-taking scenery, serenity, and tranquility cleanse your mind and recharge for daily grinds of city street running.
So, there are plenty of benefits of trail running for marathon training, at least for me. I would definitely go out there and explore more trails. Burger and beer tastes much better after a trail run, too!