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Sylvan Island jogger

A jogger in April runs along one of the many trails on Sylvan Island.

In what seems like an eternity since my last column, we’ve been inundated with very “Non-Spring” like weather.

One of the best things about spring is that some of our local trails open back up. I’m not talking about bike paths or anything paved, I’m talking about running on dirt through some of our local forest preserves/wooded areas.

There is nothing like getting off the pavement and into the woods for a few hours to help brighten your day. Running over rocks and roots while you work hard on the up-hills and bomb the downhills will have you feeling like a kid again.

If you aren’t familiar with trail running or even where to go, I’ve included some great information below.

1. Run Open Trails Only – Running on wet trails can/will damage them. While we have a select few locations in town that you can run the trails regardless of the weather, year round, please take into consideration what your impact would have on them. If a trail is listed as closed, do not run, walk or hike on them.

2. Finding Trails – While you may be aware of a few local trails, one of the best resources for the entire area is via our local MTB group, Friends of Off-Road Cycling. This group has built and maintains many multi-use trails throughout the QC region. For a list of trails and their current status (open/closed), please visit QCFORC.ORG .

3. Group Runs– A great way to get introduced to local trails is to do so as part of a group. The Quad Cities Trail and Ultra Runners host weekly group runs, most commonly on Monday evenings and Saturdays. Check out their Facebook page for more information on their next outing.

4. Gear – You can go out and run on most of our local trails with your normal gear. Trail shoes offer a little more support and protection than road shoes but aren’t necessary. I would certainly recommend something with some tread though as that will help with any elevation changes and loose terrain.

5. Helpful Advice – A few other items to help you know what to expect:

a. Taking some water with is normally a good idea. Depending on the length of your journey and your effort, you might need some water before you know it. Know that your pace on the trail will more than likely be slower than on the road so plan accordingly.

b. Try to soak in the sounds of nature when you are out there. I love running with music, but sometimes you just need to turn it off. If you do run with music, make sure you only have 1 earbud in so you can hear other trail users (or animals) to avoid accidents. Any music being played without ear buds (speakerphone, etc.) is definitely frowned upon as well.

c. Leave No Trace. The last thing anyone wants is to run on a littered trail. If you pack it in, pack it out.

Jeramy Duffee is an RRCA Running Coach and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer with racing and coaching experience ranging from 5K’s to 100 mile trail races. To submit future topics and coaching inquiries, please email him at swingthegate@gmail.com

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