How to Start Trail Running

How to Start Trail Running

Lots of runners that usually run on paved tracks with trade in city running for hitting the trails.  Trail running gives you the chance to check out different scenery, it has less impact on your joints and it can help motivate you to keep running.  You still need to take the time to transition properly so you don’t end up with an injury that keeps you from running.  Going from running on hard pavement or concrete to trails will challenge your body in new ways and improve your fitness.  Here are some tips on how to start trail running and avoid injury.

Start with Jumping

Running trails is a whole different experience, the trail is rarely flat or smooth and you will be going up and down hills.  This can be hard on your joints and you can absorb a great deal of impact particularly when running downhill.  You can prepare for trails by first doing some plyometric exercises.  Add jumping to your strength training routing a couple of times a week, start with box jumps and move to depth jumps.  Skipping or one legged hops can also help prepare your muscles and joints for off road running.  Here are some plyometric exercises to get you started.

Strengthen Your Ankles

Trail running is filled with rocks, sticks, tree roots and everything else that can possible be put in your path.  All of these things are perfect for twisting or spraining an ankle.  There are some exercises that you can do that will help improve the stability of your ankles before you hit the trail.  Work out with a Bosu ball and you can try working out without shoes on.  Doing lunges and squats in bare feet forces your ankles to stabilize your feet.  You eventually move on to doing plyometrics without your shoes.  When you first start working out barefoot stick to just using your body weight.

Go Slowly

If you are coming off a long cold winter running on a treadmill or on an indoor track you aren’t ready to jump right onto the trails.  Start by doing some plyometrics a couple of times per week and some barefoot lunges.  If you are running outside in the city then work a bit of trail into the end of your run.  Swap out a couple of runs on regular pavement for a shorter run on the trails.  Build up the pace and distance slowly until you are completely comfortable.

Saving the Wetlands

Saving the Wetlands

With the green movement continues to grow everyday we shouldn’t lose sight of protecting some of our wetlands and not just focus on recycling or buying a hybrid car.  Sometimes there isn’t as much attention given to other options when it comes to conservation but nature is our reason for conservation.  Wetlands are in jeopardy with more than 100,000 acres of wetlands lost to us every year.

Wetland Preservation

Wetlands all over the world have some incredibly diverse ecosystems that are delicately balanced.  There are two criteria for being labelled a wetland, the presence of water and the ability to support a variety of plant and animal life.  Wetlands are commonly bogs, swamps and marshes and they are necessary for a couple of reasons.

  • They regulate the flow of nearby rivers
  • Act as a filter for the water supply
  • Support the spawning grounds for a number of species
  • Provide food for indigenous wildlife

Despite how important they are to use people still continue to remove plants, pollute the area, allow overgrazing by livestock and so much more that ruins the ecosystem here.  Here is how we are destroying our wetlands.

Restoration of the Wetlands

With the green movement growing there are communities and environmental groups that have taken on restoration projects to help preserve the wetlands.  The goal is not just to restore the plant life there but to encourage the animal life to return.  If you want to take on a restoration in your community a visit to a local nursery can help get you started with restoring the plant life.  Here are some of the plants you’re going to need.

  • River oats
  • Broomsedge
  • Dogwood
  • Beggar Tick

This doesn’t have to be a big project like trying to clean up the Everglades in Florida you can start with the swamp in your community.  It won’t require many volunteers.  Take a look at the wetlands and the type of vegetation that grows there.  Learn as much as you can about where the water comes from and if you need to talk to local authorities.  Create a plan for what plants you are going to need and where they should go, it is easier if you create a chart.  You don’t have to weed like you do your backyard garden but keeping a handle on the weeds will help the new plants grow.

Wetlands large and small support all kinds of life, they are important to keeping the planet healthy.  Preservation and restoration of the wetlands needs to be an environmental priority.

What is a Wetland

What is a Wetland

What is a wetland?  The simple answer is that they are part of the landscape that can be defined by the presence of water.  Sounds simple enough, but wetlands are more than just…wet.  The water you find in a wetland will influence most if not all life that resides in the area.  Water is responsible for the physical, biological and the physical characteristics of the wetland.   Wetlands are often the nestled between dryer areas and large bodies of water, they can also be found in depressions where groundwater collects on the surface.

How much water does it take for an area to be a wetland?  The amount of water can vary by the season while others are permanently flooded.  However a wetland will retain damp and wet soil throughout the year.  The area may never suffer from flooding but there is enough water here all year round that the plants and animals have adapted for soil that is predominantly wet.  This turns into hydric soil and you get low oxygen conditions that happen with saturation.

The Plants Found in Wetlands

You will find a variety of plants in the wetlands and each of these species have adapted in order to live in the conditions here.  The conditions can include the amount of water, the movement of the water and where it is distributed.  The plants you find in the wetlands are often referred to as hydrophytes, these are plants that have adapted to grow in saturated soils.  The types of plants will influence what birds and insects call the wetlands home.  Other species will live here and are completely dependent while others come to wetlands for feeding.

Protected Status

Biologists can easily define a wetland, the characteristics along with the life that you will find there a legal definition took a bit longer.  There needed to be a workable definition in order to protect the wetlands and the delicate ecosystems that you find there.  Wetlands in the US are protected by state and federal law and come under the jurisdiction of the US Fish and Wildlife Services along with the US Army Corps of Engineers.  They have determined for an area to be protected as a wetland it must have the following.

  1. It must support hydrophytes
  2. The substrate must by mostly undrained hydric soil
  3. The land is saturated or covered with water during the growing season.

When we think of wetland we often think of the Everglades in Florida or the Bayou in Louisiana, but there are smaller wetlands all over the country each with its own unique ecosystem.  It is important that these wetlands are kept protected there are hundreds of plants and animal species that depend on the wetlands for survival.