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My new love, trail running

February 23, 2011

Hit the Trails for a Change of Pace

Running on the road is a necessity when training for a marathon, however running the same flat route can get tedious. Not to mention, the constant pounding on pavement can be harmful for your joints. It pays to get out and explore the variety of different trails right here in our backyard. Not only is it a change of scenery, but running on trails works different muscles in your leg because of the ever changing elevation and terrain. Don’t be fooled though, trail running isn’t easier than road, but it will make road running seem easier. The challenges the trail brings  will help build your core strength, ankles and knees. Your balance will also improve due to the unpredictable nature of the terrain.

How to get Started

  • Buy the proper gear-Unlike on the road, trail running will have you jumping and leaping over things and the ground is also a lot more uneven. That is why it is essential to buy a shoe that has the right support and the right amount of traction. Also make sure you have a handheld water bottle or CamelBak. There are sometimes no water fountains on the trails, so be prepared with water and fuel depending on how long you are going.
  • Find a Trail-Trails vary in difficulty so it is best to choose one that matches your fitness level. Check the weather reports before you go into the trails and make sure you wear the proper clothes and bring some supplies in case of an emergency. If you are running by yourself, it is also a good idea to let friends or family know where you are going.
  • Enjoy with Friends-Trail running is fun by yourself, but sometimes having a companion there to soak in the scenery is the best way to spend a weekend.

Complement your usual runs with some trails mixed in between. It’s a great outdoor activity that allows you to enjoy fresh air, natural light and your surroundings. It is also very meditative since there are not as many runners on the trails than on the road and the sense of peace and quiet is a great way to feel revitalized and refreshed.

Here are some of my favorite trails right in our backyard!

Santa Monica Backbone
This trail runs from Pt Mugu in Malibu to Will Rogers in Santa Monica. The 68 mile single track trail can be picked up from many locations making it one of my favorite trails to tackle. There are plenty of challenging trails along this backbone with the most gorgeous scenery. It’s a challenging run, but so worth it. You can do a point to point run or an out and back. The possibilities are endless. Some of my favorite trails on backbone include Ray Miller, Musch Trail and Hondo Canyon.

Westridge
Here’s a staple trail run for many runners. This 7 mile run is all on fireroad and is dog friendly as well. It is 3.5 miles up the fireroad to the Nike tower where there are bathrooms and water fountains and then 3.5 miles back down. Want an extra challenge? Take the single track ridge on the way down for spectacular views of the Santa Monica Mountains. You can also go further than then Nike tower and continue on Mullholand.

Zuma/Trancas Canyon
The trailhead is right across from Zuma Beach in Malibu, but don’t be fooled by the beach-like scenery. This 11 mile loop consists of three ascents (first going up to 1,387 feet) and two descents. The views on this trail are worth every ascent up, but watch your downhill running as some parts can be rocky and technical.

Santa Ynez Canyon Trail to Eagle Rock
This trail starts along Vereda de La Montura in the Pacific Palisades. Runners and hikers will enjoy a 7.4-mile round trip hike that ascends 1,400 feet from Santa Ynez Canyon to the 1,957-foot summit of Eagle Rock. Once at the top of Eagle Rock, enjoy the panoramic views from here. It is truly a spectacular place to be.

Los Liones to Parker Mesa
The hike begins in Pacific Palisades at the end of Los Liones Drive, just north of Sunset Boulevard. This 8 mile round trip consists of switchbacks and steep hill climbs the first two miles of this hike. With an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet, it’s definitely a tougher climb. But you can find your reward as you gaze out from a vantage point atop the bluff. Enjoy a picnic lunch or relax on a bench while taking in the overlook.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011 9:24 am

    Besides stressing the joints, exercise such as running also increases free radicals which accelerate the aging of our cells. Important to increase antioxidants when we put our bodies under stress.

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