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Guest post: Why you should run trails exclusively

Longtime Rock/Creek Race Team member Tom Sell sent this over a few minutes ago, and we’d have trouble arguing with this logic. Thanks for the article, Tom! ~JDB

I am really conflicted in writing this because I love having the trails to myself, yet I feel the need to share with others the benefits of running off road. I hope everyone that reads this will become a trail convert like me. I only pound the pavement when absolutely necessary. I would estimate that ninety-nine percent of my miles have been trail miles over the past decade. The following list is why I think you too should become an exclusive trail runner.

No cars or trucks to worry about

As I write this I just learned of the passing of local running stud, and all around good guy, Cameron Bean. I coached Cameron’s older brother in wrestling and followed Cameron’s career at Baylor/Samford. The details are not out yet, but I would suspect a distracted driver was to blame for hitting him with her car. Running/riding and sharing the road with cars and trucks scare me. I cannot tell you how many people I have seen driving while texting. I have also witnessed people applying make-up, eating, and even reading while driving. Those distracted drivers along with the idiots, who throw things at you, blast horns at you, swerve towards you, or curse you, are all great reasons to head off road.

Softer surface

My forty plus year old joints feel so much better after running ten miles off road as opposed to the same distance pounding the pavement. An even worse option is a training run/ race on concrete, which is the worst possible running surface for your joints. Get off road on dirt and grass; your joints will thank you.

Your Dog loves trails too

My two best training partners are my chocolate labs Linus and Lucy. The pads on their feet appreciate the dirt and grass while running. Additionally on certain trails they can run off the leash which allows them to run back and forth on the trails. This allows them to get a better workout and keeps me from being dragged behind them.

Increased agility

Dodging roots, rocks, streams, fallen tree branches, mud puddles and the occasional snake will make you a much more agile runner. Running trails forces you to pick and choose your foot placement quickly and wisely. This in turn increases your overall agility which makes you a better overall athlete. Who doesn’t want to be a better athlete?


Do you want to see waterfalls, streams, bluff views, valleys, deer, rabbits, squirrels, hawks, beautiful vistas and maybe even Sasquatch all while maxing out your heart rate? Hit the trails!

No one sees you

This is not really relevant to those with perfect bodies or those who dress to be seen in make-up, perfect hair and their matching running attire. This is for people like me, who want to run shirtless, yet have a concern about scaring women, children, and small pets with a forty plus year old dad bod. Running the trails is the perfect solution to those with less than perfect bodies or those that want to rock some seventies running short -shorts that end two inches below your hip. Pretty much NOBODY sees you and those that do only catch a brief glimpse. You also have the added bonus of two million trees for those days you are suffering from over-hydration.

Cooler Temps

Running trails during summer months will provide a reprieve from the heat and humidity. The trail provides tons of shade which can give you up to a ten degree temperature break. Additionally if you are fortunate enough to be running on one of our mountains you can expect an additional four or five degree temperature drop over valley or downtown temps.

Trail shoes are much better looking

Ok… I know this is a matter of opinion, but dark-colored, heavily lugged trail shoes are much better looking than neon bright road running shoes. Consider the source as I drive a four wheel drive Jeep Wrangler.

Hopefully you too will be a trail convert too.

Rock Creek Runner Tom Sell has a B.S.and M.Ed. from UTC and an Ed.S from LMU. He is 9th on UTC wrestling all-time win list and is a 3X Ironman. He is head boys & girls XC Coach at Northwest Whitfield.

One thought on “Guest post: Why you should run trails exclusively

  1. Perfectly stated and agree on all accounts. The only thing Tom failed to point out is dirt/mud – and the occasional blood – looks way cooler post-run.

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