Earlier this week Anna posted about our sister group, WOOP, also known as Women on Okinawa Pavement. In today's post, I want to touch base with you all and kind of "virtually" regroup so that we can be reminded of what WOOT (Women on Okinawa Trails) is about, and how running on trails and other non-paved courses can help improve your running and also take the monotony out of your every day pavement runs. Here's how:
- Regular running on hard surfaces, such as pavement, causes your feet and legs to endure an enormous amount of impact with each foot strike; trail running on the other hand is more forgiving on your body. Because of the softer surface, there is an increase in shock absorption and a consequent decrease in potential damage to the joints and tendons. Even if you're a die-hard pavement fan, you will benefit from getting off the road now and again and hitting the trails instead.
- Trail running is a GREAT way to get faster and stronger! You are challenging yourself in a different way when you're running up and down trails - the constant surge of hard effort as you're climbing, followed by easier downhill spurts easily simulates what runners call a "fartlek" workout i.e. a type of speedplay that stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, a necessary part of training if you want to see gains in speed and strength.
- Remember my recent post about how to psychologically get in "the zone?" Well some athletes are convinced that running on trails opens up greater opportunity to do just that! When you're out running on trails, you don't have to worry so much about paying attention to traffic, noise, and other obstacles - instead you can run freely while letting your body and mind relax (this is of course, when you're not enjoying the social chit chat of your WOOT companions).
- Your health will also benefit from trail running in the sense that you're getting out of the mainstream path of traffic, and consequently AIR POLLUTION! One of the nice things about running beside trees instead of cars is that you're breathing in clean air as opposed to toxic car fumes.
- SCENERY - I think for me, one of the things I love about early morning WOOT runs, is stepping away from all forms of civilization and into a more natural environment with trees, water, and rocks around me, and then reaching a summit somewhere as the sun is rising. It's a much more tranquil and peaceful experience - a nice break from being surrounded by either lanes of traffic or shades of gray (concrete houses and buildings).
These are all reasons why running with WOOT is a great way to mix up your weekly running routine. But ultimately, the main concept behind WOOT and why it was formed in the first place, is that we aim to provide a safe, fun, and social environment for women of all running levels to come out and enjoy some quality time together!