I have been a runner for 10 years. I’ve run 40 races–all on pavement. In fact, I’ve never been interested in trail running because we live in Stillwater–the rolling hills of the countryside and Boomer Lake aren’t exactly great trails. But after hearing about a local group–STARR–Stillwater Trail and Road Running–I was intrigued. I didn’t realize that a group of people were actively running trails–and not just Boomer Lake! A co-worker gave me more information and a link to the STARR Facebook page. So after hearing 3 months of discussion about trails, I finally hit the trails in November. I can actually say that the last time I ran on pavement was November 20, 2016–the Route 66 half marathon in Tulsa. Since then, I’ve been running trails and gravel–and I love it! Here’s why:
Safety–Fewer cars, fewer weirdos, fewer opportunities for uneven sidewalks.But I recommend some mace…just in case you run across a snake, wild dog, or coyote…you just never know!
Diversity–The views, the terrain–it’s always different and always changing. Especially because I live in Stillwater–aka The Fishbowl–there are so many more options to run on terrain other than pavement! I’ve been to McMurtry, the OSU Cross Country Course, and on numerous gravel routes that are 1/4 of a mile from my house. Each time I’ve witnessed a new beautiful aspect of Stillwater.
Less Pain–Even on gravel, I don’t have near the joint pain that I did on pavement. I didn’t even realize that I had joint pain until I ran 9 miles on gravel…and didn’t feel any knee or hip pain afterward. It was marvelous! Sure, running trails can lead to ankle injuries and causes you to use different muscles, but my joints have much less pressure put on them.
Difficulty–I like a new challenge, so running trails and gravel have been a fun way to challenge myself. On each type of terrain, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as distance and pacing, so I just went out and enjoyed my runs. It was invigorating running up and down the short hills at OSU. I felt like a ninja running at the lake (though I’m quite sure I didn’t look like it!) I felt like a rebel running on gravel–no one does that–we’ve even been told as kids, “don’t run on the gravel!” But I did it anyway! Sure, it’s harder, but it’s much more rewarding.
Beauty–Even though there are some beautiful road runs in Stillwater, I can tell you that the trail and gravel runs are 10x better! On each new run I almost forget I’m in Stillwater. The beauty of the trees and the roads and the landscape…I’ve learned to value my runs because I get to see what most people don’t get to.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Stillwater was a place for trail running. I assumed you had to live in Colorado or at least some place with mountains in order to trail run. I was wrong. If you are a runner, I strongly recommend that you find some trails or gravel roads and start running. You’ll feel the exhilaration. You’ll see the beauty. You’ll realize you’re safer. You’ll enjoy the difficulty. For some reason, I waited until someone told me I could before I actually did. I’m telling you that you can. So do it!
Wishing you a new run in the middle of life,