If you routinely run or jog for exercise purposes, then you’ve probably at least considered the possibility of a half-marathon or marathon. Have you tried training for one? Almost everyone can run almost thirteen miles without any major side effects, but it’s at this point that the least healthy among us will begin to suffer from any number of unwanted consequences — tendinitis, stress fractures, severe dehydration, or even hallucinations!
That’s why training for such an event is so important.
Gradually increasing the amount of exercise week by week will help reduce the potential for injuries and increase the chance that your muscles will build up instead of break down. That’s the goal. But there’s one major problem for many runners who decide to tackle this admirable obstacle: pavement hurts! If you’ve ever walked and ran mile after mile on sidewalk or asphalt, you know what we mean. Not only can your feet succumb to injury on the hard surfaces, but your toes will also start to go numb. It’s not fun.
No one wants to experience these phenomena, but what can you do to prevent it?
One possibility is training to run a trail marathon instead. These races usually take place on popular local trails, where runners will travel up and down hills or along ridgelines. While this might sound even more difficult than a normal marathon, there are several benefits — and it might not be as hard as you think.
First of all, running on uneven, slanted surface forces you to keep alert at all times — so counter-intuitively, it can help prevent injuries that result from reduced awareness. Also, you’ll build leg muscles you’re not accustomed to using during a run on level ground. Last but not least, running on soil can actually hurt less than running on pavement.
We’ll be the first to admit that it takes a well-rounded and strong physique to make it through a trail marathon. Sometimes it’s more about mental toughness than physical fortitude or lasting endurance. As long as you keep one foot in front of the other and don’t look “up” too often — seriously, never ever look up — then you’ll be fine.
We recommend the Iron Mountain Trail Run at the end of August for those who live in or around southwestern Virginia. There are even 50-mile ultramarathon options for those seeking an even greater challenge! The race takes off from Damascus, VA, a place often referred to as Trail Town USA. It’s known as one of the most hiker-friendly destinations in the country and is a great spot from which to embark upon other outdoor adventures like riding, hiking, or backpacking.