5 Reasons To Try Trail Running

Ideas & Advice / Outdoor Adventure (Unique lifestyle/travel/personal experience)

If you’ve never heard of trail running, think back to high school and the “cross country” races the skinny kids ran when track and field season was still a long winter away. I didn’t understand the appeal of trail running back then, an opinion I held until this week when I talked with Outdoor Accessories and Special Channels Planner Amanda Staples and Pricing Promotions Specialist Rick Plyler about why they love trail running so much that running 21.5 miles over 12 peaks is fun for them.

Whether you’re a lifelong road runner looking to shake up your routine or a fun, exciting way to get in shape, here are Rick and Amanda’s Top 5 Reasons to Try Trail Running.

Rick Plyler and Amanda Staples with their weighted packs on a midwinter training run for the Wapack and Back Trail Race.

Rick Plyler and Amanda Staples with their weighted packs on a midwinter training run for the Wapack and Back Trail Race.

Trail Running is a Better Workout Than Road Running

Rick loves dodging roots and Amanda claims the hills and constantly varying terrain have helped her work muscles she never knew she had while strengthening her quads and hamstrings in ways road running just can’t. “Your body is constantly reacting to the trail and learning to adapt,” Amanda says and Rick adds: “With trail running, I feel amazing and like I accomplished something.”

Trail Running is Never Boring

I have to admit that Rick and Amanda have a point here. I’ve run on the high school track as well as the roads of Keene, NH and monotony always gets the better of me. As Amanda puts it: “With trail running, the scenery changes every day, even if you run the same trail.”

The scene of Amanda's first trail run on October 1, 2012

The scene of Amanda’s first trail run on October 1, 2012

Trail Running Feels Good

“I find when running on the road, my knees and feet hurt from constantly pounding on the asphalt,” Rick says. While some trails can be rocky, Rick and Amanda both love feeling the earth under their feet as well as the challenge of figuring out the best place to put your foot down when roots or other obstacles present themselves.

Trail Running is Liberating

When I say trail running is liberating, I’m not just talking about the freedom of running away from cars, congestion and boredom. Trail running defies the time regiments of road running in ways Amanda really enjoys. “I’m finally getting used to running without a watch, constantly timing my miles, because as many trail runners will agree, miles on the road are very different from miles out on the trail. My fastest marathon is 4:58 for 26.2 miles, yet it took me 6:48 to run 21.5 out in the woods.” When you’re trail running, you’re free to have fun and do your best instead of obsessing about beating your personal best time.

You Can Trail Run in Chacos

OK, this one’s a nod to Plyler and his unconventional choice in trail running footwear, but the fact is, you don’t need a ton of gear or expertise to have fun and get in shape on the trail. “I’ve tried running shoes, trail running shoes, and even minimalist shoes while trail running, but nothing feels better on my feet than a trusty pair of Chacos.”

It's true, Rick Plyler trail runs in his Chacos sandals. He even completed the 21.5 Wapack and Back Trail race in them.

It’s true, Rick Plyler trail runs in his Chacos sandals. He even completed the 21.5 Wapack and Back Trail race in them.

“Sure, my feet get a little muddy but to be able to feel the earth under your feet and not care about splashing in puddles because your shoes won’t get weighed down is priceless,” Rick says.

To find the right pair of trail running shoes for you, talk to the Foot Guru at your local store or call 888-463-6367 to talk with one of our customer service reps. One final piece of advice from Amanda:

“Always tell someone where you’re going and run with a partner whenever possible.”

If you agree with Rick and Amanda’s 5 Reasons To Try Trail Running or have a reason or two of your own why someone should get into the sport, please leave a comment. At Eastern Mountain Sports, we’re all about inspiring people to get outside and try new things and if trail running is your passion, we’d love to hear from you! 



Jim Darroch

Jim's love for the outdoors began with family camping trips in "Brady Bunch" style canvas tents and progressed to backpacking adventures with the Boy Scouts. In 2007, he fulfilled his teenage dream by joining Eastern Mountain Sports as Brand Communications Manager. When he's not in the office, you'll find Jim kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking around the Monadnock Region and throughout New England with his wife Brenda and his dog Brewski.


  1. September 18, 2013, 9:47 pm

    I’ve heard many good things about the Salomon trail runners. I love all of my Salomon gear and think I might give them a try! Another woman I hike with swears by them because of the traction.

  2. Sam wise gamgee
    September 16, 2013, 7:20 pm

    Trail running, Ahhh there is not much I like to do more. As I learned from training for some mud runs in different ways you have to “train how you fight” (Ben Byler) or in this case compete. Treadmills and roads do not cut it for me. The grades you find on trails will make your calves burn like nothing else and as aforementioned: honing foot placement skills, balancing going down hill and working stabilizing muscles are great bonuses. Two things I like best is the beauty of the landscape and peacefulness of the trial; it can be calming and even thought inspiring. Footwear is important, Merel makes good stuff, I also wear a pair of Adidas light way running shoes that have taken a beating. I will be looking to EMS to see what they have to offer for my next pair.

  3. Jim Peters
    September 15, 2013, 1:20 pm

    I pretty much agree with Rick and Amanda. I’ve been trail running for about 15 years. I do disagree on the shoes. When I switched from roads to trails, I ran in Nike Airs. They didn’t stand up to the wear. I found Salomon trail running shoes at EMS and have run in them ever since. I usually go through 3 pairs a year. Here in New England I could never run in chacos. As it is, I usually have recent scratches on my lower legs, and my occasional falls all are a result of tripping. The scratches are outward sings that I have been having fun.

    The only other thing to mention is that trail running in New England’s rocky terrain require paying attention to your path and forces you to regularly exercise your ability to keep your balance. Both represent excellent practice.

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