Back in 2010 I decided to run my first marathon. Unlike most people who pick an “easy”, flat road course, I decided to go the opposite direction and chose one of the toughest ones in the country: The Leadville Trail marathon.
With the starting line at over 10,000 feet, course elevation gain total over 7500 feet (including a 13er summit) and loose, rocky terrain I had my work cut out for me.
When race day arrived I thought I was prepared. I had been trail running for over 10 years at that point, fit in all my long runs and did several 14ers for high altitude training.
However, I distinctly remember my greatest weaknesses on the course: my power hiking skills and ability to run long, sustained climbs. I had done a ton of trail running to train but very little power hiking. “Why hike when I could run?”, I wrongly assessed.
You love to run. Or maybe you don’t. Wherever you are on the spectrum, if you are planning on adding more mileage or training for an event, you need to make sure that your body is adequately prepared to take on the additional stresses running places on the body.
What do we mean by this? Strength and conditioning!
Many runners neglect to strengthen the muscles they use when running. And not only those muscles, but the opposing ones too. In order to prevent injury and run at your best, you need to ensure that your body is strong and your training plan is well balanced. We like to refer to this as “pre-hab” work.
With cooler temps, mountain snowfall and wintry weather back in force, many new trail runners are wondering if and how they can continue enjoying the trails throughout the season. Well, I am here to tell you that now is not the time to resign to the boring old “dreadmill”.
Trail running during the winter is possible and in fact, can be quite the adventure.
Trail running is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and for one main reason: it is so much fun!
We are fortunate to live in a place with a myriad of park systems and literally hundreds of miles of trails right in our backyard. However, not all front range trails are suitable for beginners. Steep climbs, descents and technical terrain are a veteran trail runner’s delight but those new to trail running may find themselves beyond their ability level and at higher risk for injury.
So how to know where to start?
We’ve compiled a list of 5 favorite trails in Southwest Denver (within 30 minutes of Denver proper) suited for runners looking to hit the trails for the first time.
When most people set New Years resolutions they set goals like “eat healthier”, “lose 5lbs” or “exercise more often”. While quite vague, these goals also lack a certain element of excitement to me. My resolutions take a different shape, in the form of various adventures and races I’d like to accomplish before the year’s end. I’ve compiled a list of some of my all time favorite events some of which I have completed and others that are still on my list. I’d love to hear about yours too! I’ve included some great beginner friendly races plus some epic events worthy of mountain goat status. Please post links to any events or adventures in the comments section below. Happy training!
Abominable winter obstacle run, February 22nd:
Looking for some adventure this winter? This 4ish mile winter obstacle course includes snow tunnels, walls, a log carry, lots of steep hills, deep snow and even a sledding section, but watch out for the Yeti in the woods! Finish to hot chocolate, a “mountain man” contest and more winter fun. Learn more HERE.
It’s starting to heat up here in Colorado. With COVID restrictions easing, people are flooding to local parks and trails, eager to spend time in the wilderness.
Check out our recommendations of places close to the Denver area that you should visit on a hot day for your outdoor adventures.
And please share your favorite places to stay cool in the comment section below too!
Hike, run and ride:
Deer Creek Canyon Park Lakewood The trails in this park are diverse, challenging and rewarding. From the lot/trailhead, take the Plymouth Creek trail to the Plymouth Mountain trail around to the Scenic View trail lookout for a tough 6 mile out and back route. For most of the route you will be in rich and thick pine forests.
Windy Saddle Park: Morrison Park at the Lookout Mountain Nature center and take the Lookout Mountain trail to the Beaver Brook trail. This trail boasts 9 miles (one way) of exciting terrain including aspen groves, open fields, thick forests and some rocky scramble sections. The higher elevation offers cooler mountain air for an exceptional long run or hike (no bikes allowed).
Lair o’ the Bear Park Morrison From the lot/main trailhead, take the Bear Creek trail. The first 1.5 miles is a wide, flat dirt path along the creek and then you begin to climb on single track into a thick and fragrant pine forest. The entire trail is 6.2 miles one way and is shaded most of the time. This is a beautiful trail system close to town that provides an opportunity for a great long run, hike or ride!
I love a good adventure. In fact, you could say my thirst for discovering new trails and desire to see what is around that next bend has been a driving force in my trail running career.
Finding a trail system (or multiple) that have sections of varying lengths you can link together is a great way to add mileage as your fitness level and skills on the trails increase. Check out my recommendations in the front range for beginner to advanced trail runners and please share in the comments below your favorite multi-trail adventures in Colorado!!
We are fortunate to live in a state with so many beautiful trails and a myriad of trail races to choose from. If you are new to the state or just getting into trail running and looking to take on your first trail race, choosing the best one compatible with your fitness and ability level can be a daunting task.
Our 2018 lineup has been broken down into four categories including our favorite races and events for beginners and also those seeking a little more adventure and/or quad busting action. Check out our recommendations below and happy training!
The 5k course contains just 300 feet of climbing, enjoy rolling hills with short climbs and quick descents, perfect practice for those new to the trails. The trails are smooth and wind through bushes and brush with occasional scenic views of Pikes Peak and Castle Rock.
There is plenty to do for the entire family at this venue post run. The Philip S. Miller Park’s outdoor space includes a playground with 60-foot slide, a 200-step challenge staircase, a turf field, and the Headrush Towers—40-foot and 80-foot towers that kids can climb up, repel down, or even free fall from.
The trails at Elk Meadow park are relatively tame and any climbing is done gradually through a series of switchbacks winding through the thick evergreen forests. The 5k course will mainly keep runners along the base of Bergen peak where you will run through beautiful open meadows filled with yellow and green grasses and wildflowers. The elevation here is the greatest challenge so make sure those lungs are ready for the higher altitude (around 8000 feet).
This is a follow-up post from my late summer post “2 Tough workouts to help you conquer steep hills“. There are many ways to format your hill training workouts depending on your fitness and goals. My last post focused more on training for an endurance event (half marathon or longer) where you would be encountering long hills (1/2 mile or longer). This post is more relevant to the everyday runner, OCR athlete and all looking to improve fitness, strength and running form (and more specifically for trail running)!