Why, how, and where to start trail running this season.
Trail Running has many benefits, but as with anything new it can be intimidating. Below we tell you WHY, HOW, and WHERE to get out on the trails this season.
Why Should You Try the Trails?
- Beat the heat - Who wants to slave away on the hot asphalt sucking down car exhaust when you can run in perpetual shade? The woods will be 10 or more degrees cooler than the roads, giving you the opportunity for a faster, longer run.
- Softer ride - Give your joints a break from the constant pounding and enjoy the feel of shock absorbing soft dirt under your feet.
- Refresh your brain - Step into the woods and let the worries of the day go. The traffic, noise and pace stresses from the road no longer exist and the peaceful quiet of the forest is a great way to unwind after a long day. Additionally, your mind will be constantly engaged as you are navigating the roots and rocks, keeping you focused on your run and not the troubles back at home.
- Activate your muscles - Trail running requires different muscle groups than road running. The uneven terrain will whip those stabilizers into shape while the climbs will engage those weak glutes.
How Should You Start?
- Find a trail - Here in the Nashville area we have a variety of excellent trail running options. Make it easy on yourself and pick one close by and well-populated for your first trail run.
- Take it easy - Don't be surprised if you slow down significantly on the trails. With varied terrain and sometimes steep elevation changes you will naturally slow down and that's ok. Run or walk by effort and don't worry about your pace.
- It's OK to hike the hills - It may sound counterintuitive but trail runners have learned the secret that it's more efficient to hike or walk the hills rather than try to run up them. You will conserve energy and can make up time on the way down. And remember - it's all about effort on the trails NOT pace.
- Pick up your feet - With roots and rocks, you'll quickly realize that the road shuffle isn't going to work. Keep your feet up and scan 10-15 feet ahead of you for any obstacles in your way. It's always best to step over an obstacle rather than on it if possible; roots and rocks are usually more slippery than they look!
- Bring water - and maybe a snack. You may be used to getting through a run without needing to hydrate, but it's always a good idea to have water on the trails. With the hills and varied terrain, you will expend more energy quickly. A simple handheld waterbottle or a hydration vest are great ways to carry water and have extra pockets for snacks and any other items you need.
- Leave no trace - Respect the trails and our outdoor spaces by staying on the curated paths and making sure not to litter.
Where are the Best Nashville Trails?
Here are some of our favorite trails in and near Nashville:
- Percy Warner Park - We like to park at the Deep Wells entrance which gives access to both the Mossy Ridge Trail (Red) and the Warner Woods Trail (White).
- Edwin Warner Park - Just across Old Hickory Blvd and with easy access to the Harpeth Woods Trail (Blue) from the Nature Center bathrooms, Edwin is a popular choice. Connect the two parks with the Candy Cane Connector.
- Marcella Vivrette Smith Park - in Brentwood off of Wilson Pike, Smith Park has several trail options that are very beginner and family friendly but with enough challenge for more experienced trail runners.
- Sarah Benson Park and Heritage Park in Thompson Station connect behind Heritage Schools and have several beginner friendly trails and walking paths.
- Preservation Park in Thompson Station offers gorgeous views across 200 acres. Beginners love that the trails are less technical and experienced runners love the quick elevation climbs.
- Beaman Park about 20 miles north of Nashville, Beaman park is a hidden gem with over 14 total miles of trails. Definitely take some snacks and water if you run the 12 mile trail!
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