Portions of Louisville Loop Intermittently Closed

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Trail Running 101

Trail running is much different from running on pavement and can have great rewards for runners looking to change up their routine. But don’t be intimidated—with the proper planning you’ll really enjoy the change in pace. 

Benefits of Trail Running:

  • If you’re in a running rut, switching your routine can lead to a whole new challenge, you’ll be surprised at how different running the same distance may feel.
  • Can be easier on your joints (especially knees) because the soft ground gives more than a paved surface.
  • Because of the uneven surface you incorporate your core as well as your stabilizer muscles which you may not normally use running on pavement.
  • Trails tend to be steeper and will force you to change your pace throughout your run—adding a challenge you may not be getting on flat roads and sidewalks. Trail running forces you to slow down, but you won’t miss out on burning calories.
  • It’s fun! Trail running often takes you off the beaten path and you may come across wildlife, plants and other sites you may not encounter on “city roads.” It’s a great way to get away from traffic and get in touch with nature—wonderful for stress relief!

Things to Watch Out For:

  • Make sure you have on the right shoes: bulkier running shoes with some extra padding and tread will go a long way on uneven surfaces.
  • Plan your route. How far do you want to run on dirt? What sort of trail difficulty are you prepared for (how hilly the terrain may be)? What other uses are there for the trail—will you need to keep an eye out for mountain bikers?
  • Be alert and attentive- you will need to proactively watch for roots, rocks and other items along the trail so as not to turn an ankle. Visually survey the trail in front of you, and it helps to lift your feet higher in your stride to avoid any misjudging you may do.
  • Adjust your speed. You may not be able to go your usual road-race speed due to switchbacks, terrain, and obstacles. Enjoy the change in pace!
  • Carry a cell phone with you, in case you fall and turn an ankle, so you can call for help. Also be sure to tell someone where you’re headed beforehand, in case you get stuck.
  • If you get tired, don’t be afraid to take a break and hike. You’ll still be getting a great workout!
  • Don’t run after or right before dusk as trails are not as well-lit as roads can be. 

Join us this Saturday, October 18th at 9:00 am in Pope Lick Park for the Norton Sports Health Fitness Trail Run. During this 3 mile run participants will experience three different types of running surfaces:

  • Louisville Loop (flat, paved hard surface)
  • Loose gravel trail (Prairie Preserve Trail)
  • Dirt Trail (Big Beech Trail) 

This event is FREE, but space is limited, so please register here. Parklands and Norton Sports Health staff will be on-site to help coach you on trail running. We hope you’ll join us!



About the Author


Picture of Ellen Doolittle Oost

Ellen Doolittle Oost

Ellen has been the Director of Development at 21st Century Parks since April of 2015. In this role she oversees fundraising functions for The Parklands, including the annual fund/membership campaign, corporate sponsorships, supporting the Board of Directors, leading major fundraising events, and seeking grant and foundational support. It’s her goal to create multiple compelling opportunities for donors to support The Parklands, a donor-supported public park that does not receive tax dollar support on an annual basis but has four world-class parks free and open to the public 365 days a year.

Although fairly new to this role, Ellen is intimately familiar with The Parklands as she spent the previous 3 years as the Communications Manager in charge of public relations, social media, community outreach and marketing for the parks. Before joining 21st Century Parks she spent three years with Louisville-based advertising agency Doe-Anderson. Her background also includes marketing and account service roles at Anheuser-Busch InBev, PriceWeber advertising agency, and direct mail marketing at Traffic Builders, Inc. Ellen is a graduate of Marietta College where she studied advertising, public relations and marketing and played volleyball. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling with her two mutts and her husband Andrew.