Trail Running - Jeff Galloway - ebook

Trail Running ebook

Jeff Galloway



If you want to experience the real freedom of running in a natural surrounding and if the ever repeating runs in the streets start to bore you, Trail Running is the right way to improve your running experience. The charm of starting Trail Running is to find your own way on lonely mountain hiking trails and to set your own goals, because no trail run can be compared to another. Running guru Jeff Galloway offers his own approach of getting started with his unique way of guaranteeing an injury-free running style. With his Run-Walk-Run? method Jeff helps beginners to start Trail Running the right way. Advanced runners can use a specialized training program which will help them prevent overtraining, injuries, and other calamities you can encounter during intense training sessions. The book covers a wide range of Trail Running equipment, especially covering the whole range of Trail Running shoes. If you want to jump start your trail run, this is your complete guide.

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This book has been very carefully prepared, but no responsibility is taken for the correctness of the information it contains. Neither the author nor the publisher can assume liability for any damages or injuries resulting from information contained in this book.

Jeff Galloway

Trail Running

Meyer & Meyer Sport

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Jeff Galloway: Trail RunningMaidenhead: Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd., 2014ISBN 9781782553526

All rights reserved, especially the right to copy and distribute,including the translation rights. No part of this work may be reproduced –including by photocopy, microfilm or any other means –processed, stored electronically, copied or distributed in any form whatsoeverwithout the written permission of the publisher.

© 2014 by Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd.Aachen, Auckland, Beirut, Budapest, Cairo, Cape Town, Dubai, Hägendorf,Indianapolis, Maidenhead, Singapore, Sydney, Tehran, WienMember of the World Sport Publishers’ Association (WSPA)www.w-s-p-a.orgISBN 9781782553526E-Mail: [email protected]


Chapter 1:     Introduction: Trail Running Got Me Hooked on Running

Chapter 2:     We Are Hard-Wired to Be Trail Animals

Chapter 3:     Benefits of Trail Running

Chapter 4:     Glossary of Trail Terms

Chapter 5:     How Do You Find Trails?

Chapter 6:     My Top Picks Trail List

Chapter 7:     Shoes—Choosing the Best Shoe for You

Chapter 8:     Clothing

Chapter 9:     Caution! Rough Road Ahead—The Unique Challenges

Chapter 10:   Equipment

Chapter 11:   Choosing the Right Trail

Chapter 12:   The Galloway Run-Walk-Run Method

Chapter 13:   Adjusting Walk Breaks on Trails

Chapter 14:   Running Form

Chapter 15:   Terrain Training

Chapter 16:   Hill Training

Chapter 17:   Choosing a Goal

Chapter 18:   5K Training

Chapter 19:   10K Training

Chapter 20:   Half Marathon Training Program

Chapter 21:   Marathon Training Program

Chapter 22:   Ultra Marathon Training

Chapter 23:   Faster Trail Racing

Chapter 24:   Strategy and Plans for Trail Runs

Chapter 25:   Injuries: Prevention and Care

Chapter 26:   Injury Troubleshooting: From One Runner to Another

Chapter 27:   Respect the Heat!

Chapter 28:   Your Motivation Training Plan

Chapter 29:   Mental Training Programs

Chapter 30:   A Trail Runner’s Diet

Chapter 32:   Troubleshooting

Chapter 33:   List of Trails


Chapter 1:Introduction: Trail Running Got Me Hooked on Running

My first few trail runs did not bring much joy. I was 13, lazy, overweight, and in poor physical shape. Due to my father’s Navy career, I had attended 13 schools by the time I finished the 7th grade and had not been involved with team sports or regular physical training of any type. At this point my father became a teacher, we moved to Atlanta, and my new school required each boy to work out with an athletic team after school every day. This was a major jolt to my lazy lifestyle, and I didn’t like it.

During the fall I tried football, which was a total disaster from my perspective, and even more so from the view of my coaches. Before choosing a sport for the next quarter, I asked several of the other lazy kids for their choices and was surprised to hear that many had chosen Winter Cross Country Conditioning. The consensus among the slackers was that the coach was the most lenient in the school. “Tell him you are running on the trails, and you only have to jog 200 yards to the woods and hide out.”

I did just that for two days. On the third day, an older athlete I liked came over to me and said, Galloway, you‘re running with us today. I quickly came up with my strategy: As we entered the woods, I planned to grab my hamstring, claiming a muscle pull. But the jokes started right away, and I kept going to hear the punch line. As we entered the trail system, they were exchanging gossip about the teachers—and I wanted to hear all of it. I didn’t last long the first day, struggled to adjust to the surface, and walked most of the way back to the school.

The primitive satisfaction of running trails combined with honest friendships and social fun kept me coming back, day after day—but it was hard work. The biggest surprise was how good I felt after a run. The after-run attitude boost was better than I had experienced after any activity during my young life.

There was also something special about the trail experience. Every step was a challenge at first, and I suffered my share of ankle turns and stumbles. With the support of the group, I experienced a unique sense of empowerment from overcoming each challenge.

Week after week I felt my body adapt and improve. The stumbles and aches became fewer and less painful. I began to sense that my feet were making intuitive adjustments to new terrain. I was becoming a trail running animal, and I liked it.

My spirit is energized after every run—but trail running does it better. Touching the earth in a natural environment engages parts of the mind-body network that are not activated on other runs. I felt energized by every trail run during my first few weeks and looked forward to the next one.

The most wonderful aspect of being on the trails after school was the special sense of freedom that can be encountered only on a trail run. When running down the trail, stress melted away: the demanding academic program, conflicts with fellow students, pressure from teachers and parents. As I moved along through the forest and along the creek, I was the king of the trail.

While the causes of stress in my life are different over 50 years later, I enter the same type of enhanced mental restoration today. I love trails!

Chapter 2:We Are Hard-Wired to Be Trail Animals

Anthropologists who specialize in ancient man tell me that our ancestors survived because they kept extending their ability to cover long distances on foot. Walking with some running became the mode of transportation. Before our ancient relatives developed strategies for hunting and later, farming, they roved through forests and plains.

The more ground covered, the greater the chance of finding food. As our forebears pushed back the physical barriers, they developed physiological and mechanical adaptations to keep going…and going… and going.

During the period prior to one million years ago, our ancestors moved from quadruped to biped capabilities and had to solve many problems during the daily journey for food. Trail challenges stimulated brain development in the frontal lobe—the human brain.

Our mind-body organism responds to challenges: When encountering rocks, it is natural to pause, adjust the step, and make little, necessary adjustments. Running requires one to be at a high state of readiness to avoid tripping or stepping in a hole, while maintaining balance and looking ahead to the next challenge.

Scientists have noted that when we’re running, thought activity tends to be in the conscious brain, in the frontal lobe. Other animals don’t have this “executive brain” resource that allows us humans to be in the moment, to make decisions, and to plan strategically. Neuroscientists believe that during the period of time from 2 million BCE to 1 million BCE, our ancestors expanded their roaming range to find food. As they became endurance animals, they began to band together for survival, developing the human traits of cooperation, trust, and support—while expanding frontal lobe activity.

We return to our roots as we run down the trail.

Chapter 3:Benefits of Trail Running

As you move along a trail through forest, desert, or parkland, you enter a different state of mind. You’re constantly interacting with the ground, vegetation, elevation change, and a variety of sounds and aromas. Mind-body activity is elevated to a higher level of awareness to be ready to react. You’re living in the moment and interacting with life around you as you move forward.

The journey: Our ancestors programmed us to move from one point to another along the trail. Forward movement is positive and fulfilling. Intuitively, as we move forward, we can solve problems and enjoy the satisfaction of exertion in nature. There is a feeling of empowerment in finishing any run, but the sensation has almost always been better at the end of a trail workout.

Sharing: There’s a special bonding that occurs when we run with one or more companions along a trail. We’re connecting with millions of years of evolution. The extra trust and cooperation felt toward a trail running companion often extends after the run. Some runners communicate and bond better on trails—even when nothing is said. Trail companions are connected the same way our ancient relatives pulled one another along to get through tough times.

Variety: Even if you run the same trail each day, you will feel different sensations on each run. When you choose a different trail every week, you will learn to look forward to the adventure and the discovery process. Each month you can add a few new trails to your favorites. As you get to know different trail connections, you can combine your favorite loops, or out-and-backs to add the distance or time you need on any given day.

The mission: Planning the trail runs usually requires scheduling the drive to and from, assigning time in a busy schedule, coordinating with running companions, and dividing responsibility for logistics. As we work together, anticipate and then experience the trail together, the trail run becomes more than an average run.

Enjoyable scenery: I’ve run thousands of trail runs. Each has delivered a memorable series of visual images, interesting and diverse sounds, mysteries, and puzzles. Surprising are the discoveries during runs on trails that at first seem boring or not stimulating. Within a few minutes you’ll see details of ground cover, vegetation, animal prints or signs, and sounds made by the wind or vegetation. You could write several pages about the details seen and felt along every segment of just about any trail.

Strengthens legs and feet: The legs and feet have to work a bit harder on trails to maintain balance, push off on different terrain, and shift usage of muscles. All of the adaptations for adjusting to various surfaces are embedded in us. As we run regularly on non-paved surfaces, we get better and better at adjusting pace and foot placement, inserting walk breaks, and moving around hazards. You find a different sense of balance on trails. Muscles and tendons intuitively strengthen and work together in special ways during different segments of each trail. You’ll notice small muscles not usually defined on road runners are much more defined on the legs of trail runners.

Part of nature: As you move through the trees, plants, hills, grass, and sand, you become part of nature, picking up bits of the forest, field, valley, or prairie. You’re literally grounded as you touch earth on each step. You feel the moisture (or lack of) and collect the dust, mist, snow, and frost on you.

Preparation for off-road races: A growing number of races offer off-road races or segments. As you train on trails that simulate your racecourse, you adapt the feet, legs, and balance for the exact demands of the race itself. Many who run trail events will schedule trips to train on the course in advance and reduce the surprises on race day. The best preparation for running on a trail is to train on that trail.

View scenery in a unique way: Due to the light, foliage, and recent precipitation, the scenery changes from one a trail run to any other. Many carry cameras or camera-phones and capture images that are revisited over and over (and often become screen savers), but most of the images are stored away in memory alone. Every week, during a run, a certain image, shadow, or cloud formation will bring flashes of my rich memories in the Sierra Mountains, through Arizona desert preserves, or a Florida longleaf-pine forest. Some were experienced last week but others decades ago—a wonderful and direct connection with our running past.

Brain invigoration: The brain instinctively revs up when you start running on a trail, turning on “circuits” for high awareness. Starting in ancient times, running directly on the earth required more resources throughout the mind-body network. The central nervous system is on high alert, reflexes are ready, and the energy circuit gears up to conserve and deliver as needed. Muscles are activated, performance hormones are released, and mechanical units flow into a smooth range of motion. I know of no other activity that activates our vitality and expectations than trail running.

The result is that I feel more alive and energized when running down a trail: body, mind, and spirit working together. But I’m not alone. Runners tell me every week that they come away from a trail run more energized and motivated than when running on other surfaces.

Chapter 4:Glossary of Trail Terms

Note: Thanks to Kerry Dycus, Chris Twiggs, and Dave James for their input on these issues.

Double track: A two-lane trail such as one made by an ATV or truck. Running side-by-side is possible, passing is easy, and two-way traffic is not a problem. Keep right; pass on the left.

Out-and-back: Running along a trail in one direction for a certain distance, then running back to the start.

Loop trail: A trail that starts and finishes at the same place but has little or no duplication of the route (e.g., making a circle).

Point-to-point: A route that starts in one place and finishes in a different place. Transportation logistics are necessary when setting up such routes.

Single track: This trail is only wide enough for one person at a time. Runners have to yield to other runners to let them pass. Make sure that you leave enough space between you and the runner ahead.

Switchback: A section of trail that makes a zigzag up or down a hill. This is often found when there is a very steep elevation change and is usually preferable to running straight up or down.

Technical: Trails that have lots of rocks, roots, elevation issues, and ditches. Technical trails require a lot more attention than most as foot placement is extremely important. They may also include switchbacks, sharp turns, or blind corners. Technical trails require a delicate balance of looking ahead and looking at the ground in front of you to avoid tripping. As always, take an extra walk break to reduce risks and see what lies ahead.

Trailhead: A location where you can access a trail. Sometimes there is parking and other services. If located in a national or state park, there may be a usage fee. I gladly pay the fee to support upkeep and trail development.

Trail etiquette: This has become an extremely important topic lately as more and more people are taking up trail running: Runners, hikers, cyclists, and sometimes horses will be sharing the same trail. Be aware of the other creatures ahead and behind you.

•Passing: When approaching someone who is slower, let them know you are there with a cough or a greeting, such as “How‘s it going?” Politely thank the yielding runner as you go by after he or she pulls to the side. Uphill runners should yield to downhill runners. The downhill runner has gravity and momentum on his or her side—don’t get in the way of either of these. “Passing left” is the best way to let another runner know that you plan to come by, but the person in front needs to be aware that there are faster moving runners behind them as well. For this reason, a lot of trail races forbid headphones.

•Be patient: When approaching slower runners on a narrow path, don’t put yourself or the other runner at risk. It is appropriate to ask, “Could I please get ahead of you.”

•Being passed: When running on single track, be aware of those behind who are running faster than you and want to pass. Many single-track races don‘t have many passing opportunities. When faster runners come up from behind, step aside so that they can pass.

•Be “green”: Please take your trash with you (gel packs, wrappers, water bottles). Fatigue can result in sloppiness which can lead to litter on the trail.

•When running with your dog: Use a leash. A friendly dog can also cause other runners to fall. Always scoop the poop.

•Stay on the trail: Obey posted signs and don’t cut switchbacks. Some countries do not have the same rules for nature preservation as the United States. If you are competing in a race outside the US, switchback cutting may be allowed, but it’s best to stay on the established trail to protect the environment.

•Buddy system: The safest trail running, just like the safest road running, is with a buddy. But if you run alone, make sure someone knows your planned route and when to expect you back. Bring your cell phone, ensure there is reception on the trail, and the battery will last for more than the duration of the run.

Chapter 5:How Do You Find Trails?

Due to the increase in popularity of running and hiking, we’re seeing an increase in the number of trails each year. One of the most active organizations is Rails to Trails. This non-profit group buys railroad rights of way and sells it back to local or state governments for local trail development. Visit them at Many of their projects are finalized with a paved trail but some are not.

A growing number of park departments have websites. When you do a web-search for trails you will often find a website with maps and access points.

Websites to help you find local trails:

Visit the websites for the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Both are over 1,000 miles long and have many access points. Some segments will take you into remote areas. is an example of the many local organizations that offer directions and a variety of information about the trails in the area. Other examples are Washington Trails Association and (Texas)

A list of trails by state is provided at the end of this book.

Chapter 6:My Top Picks List

Tahoe Rim—California/Nevada border

Every summer, as part of our Tahoe Running Retreat, we hike and run segments of this long trail that runs near the ridgeline of the ancient volcanic crater that forms Lake Tahoe. There are many spectacular segments overlooking the lake. My favorite is on the northeast side in Nevada, just south of the Mount Rose pass on the Mount Rose highway from Incline Village. About half a mile from the summit is a large meadow on the east side of the road. At the south end of this meadow is a trailhead. Within a mile and a half you will move from meadow, to pine forest, to hillside, and even desert landscapes. Then you can enjoy a continuing series of magnificent views of Lake Tahoe. You can go as far as you wish, then turn around. Most of the trail surface is stable with visible logs and rocks.

The Tahoe Flume Trail

Not far from the trail listed above is the Flume Trail. The trailhead is just south of Incline Village, Nevada, at the northeast end of Lake Tahoe. It takes about an hour to hike the three miles to the Flume Trail after about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. During the gold-rush days this was a water flume to move logs along the mountain toward Virginia City’s mines. The elevation change once on the flume is minimal and the views are spectacular. This can be an out-and-back or a point-to-point leading to Spooner Summit trailhead.

The Perimeter Trail— Ouray Colorado

The Perimeter Trail around Ouray, Colorado is amazing. Within the first half-mile, runners are treated to an amazing view of an incredible waterfall. As the name suggests, the Perimeter Trail follows a route around the circumference of Ouray, while seemingly travelling back in time. You’ll see remnants of an old mine passing through a mining tunnel that hovers above the Box Canyon. Portions of this trail are used in the annual Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run, one of the toughest footraces on Earth. Nonetheless, the Perimeter Trail is accessible for runners of all skill levels, as well as day-hikers, and is a must for anyone visiting the San Juan region of southwest Colorado. The photo taken from the Perimeter Trail will look familiar to fans of John Wayne’s movie True Grit, which is not to be confused with the remake. This same view appears during the famous snake pit scene in that film.

Blue Mountain Beach Trails—In the Florida Panhandle between Destin and Panama City

This is the location of our Galloway Beach Retreats. After a two-minute jog along a bike trail, you enter Point Washington State Forest, which is connected to Grayton Beach State Park. This area is full of trails and loops through longleaf-pine forests and cypress trees, with good and stable footing in almost all areas.

The previous link shows only the main trail, but there are hundreds of loops and extensions throughout. In addition, the beautiful white sand beach and several other parks nearby offer a wonderland of views, sunsets, sunrises, wildlife, nature, and peaceful runs.

Pre’s Trail—Eugene, Oregon, Memorial to Steve Prefontaine]

I visited Eugene, Oregon many times the late 60s and early 70s when there were very few trails with stable footing. There I met Bill Bowerman, who was in charge of my Munich Olympic team. Bill was one of the leading forces in running during that era, an innovator, and a major influence on my running life. He promoted a few runs a week on trails, especially wood chips and shredded tires to strengthen feet and legs. One of Bill’s athletes and my best friend, Geoff Hollister (see Hollister Trail next), introduced me to another Oregon distance runner, Steve Prefontaine (see the movie Prefontaine), who also became a close friend. During our warm-up before workouts and on long runs, Pre and I explored some trails on the north side of the Willamette River from the university of Oregon campus. At the time the surface was not ideal but added a few miles and some variety to our runs. After Pre’s untimely death in 1975, the Eugene community developed a wood chip and asphalt trail system in the same area where we ran and named it after their inspiring athlete. It’s accessible from the campus and several other areas.

Geoff Hollister Trail—Near the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Oregon

More than any other person, my friend Geoff Hollister, as the promotions director for Nike during the early years, helped make running part of the American lifestyle. His book Out of Nowhere is filled with stories of the first great running boom in the 70s and early 80s. Nike has commemorated his efforts by establishing and naming a fitness trail in Geoff’s honor adjacent to the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon.

Western States Trail—Squaw Valley, California, Rim Trail

The Western States Trail was used by immigrants before roads were established between the Lake Tahoe area and Auburn and Sacramento in California. The Western States 100-mile trail race is the unofficial 100-mile world championship, starting in Squaw Valley (where our summer running retreat takes place) and finishing in Auburn, California. It is generally on the rugged side with many segments of rocks and ruts, so you will have to watch your footing. You should also get a trail map from one of the outdoor stores in the area because there are lots of trail intersections. My favorite segment of this trail can either be a point-to-point or out-and-back. It starts along the Truckee River between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows at the north end of the highway 89 bridge over the river. It leads across a few small creeks, through meadows, up to the Ridgeline between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows with a wonderful view above Squaw Valley. Taking a dirt road down about half a mile, you can then connect with a single track trail that offers a series of great vistas of Squaw Valley, about 600 feet below. This connects with a dirt road for the last three-quarter mile down to the Squaw Valley Lodge—the home of our summer retreat.

Walden Pond Trail—Near Lincoln, Massachusetts, made famous by Thoreau and Bill Rodgers

Bill won both the New York Marathon and the Boston Marathon—four times each. Before those accomplishments, Bill and I were teammates at Wesleyan University. He has always loved running on trails, feeling that his early trail running developed strength in feet and ankles, which carried over into his road running.

Bill told me about this trail, and I love it. While running around Walden Pond, you understand why the philosopher Henry David Thoreau was attracted to the area. This is truly a transcendental run. Bill also likes the Assabet Park in Maynard and Marlboro, Massachusetts.

Note: Be sure to look at the last section of this book for a listing of trails by state.

Chapter 7:Shoes—Choosing the Best Shoe for You

The best advice I can give you about trail shoes is to get the best advice. If you have a good technical running store in your area, go there and ask for the staff person who is the most knowledgeable in fitting trail shoes. The advice you can receive from experienced shoe fitters is priceless. The better stores conduct on-going training with all staff members so they know the following:

1. How to identify how each person’s two feet naturally move when they walk and when they run.

2. Which shoes are designed for the function of each foot.

3. Which shoes in a function category are best for various foot shapes and sizes.