Throughout the months of July and August, the JackRabbit team wants to help you “Go for the W”. Going for the “W” can mean something different for everyone. Whether it’s winning a race, hitting a weight loss goal or just getting back into a routine – we want to help you get that “W”.
Over the next 8 weeks, you’ll find a great assortment of curated products to help you WIN in all different ways including: style, running, nutrition, recovery and more! We want to help you be the best you can be. That’s why we offer winning products to help find your inner champion!
Let’s all go for the “W”!
WIN WITH TRAIL
“Go for the “W” by winning with trail. Escape the pavement and hit the trails this summer with these top trail footwear, apparel and accessory picks from HOKA, Nathan and more!
There are many ways to rejuvenate your running, but few as failsafe as trail running. Going for a trail run and implementing off-road running into your weekly regiment can work wonders for you with numerous physical, mental and emotional benefits.
JackRabbit Marketing Guru, Laura Cortez took on the Brazos Bend 50 Miler this past weekend in Houston, TX. Check out her full race recap below.
50 miles by foot takes a long time. Doing it for your first time is also equally one of the longest and fastest experiences you’ll ever have. It’s kind of like those things where you’re so in-the-moment and rolling with punches because you don’t think it’s ever going to end, but then you blink and suddenly it’s all over and all that prep work you did to lead up to this moment has ended. This is how my first 50-mile race went, for the most part.
On April 3 I participated in the Brazos Bend 50 down in Houston, TX to race the 50-miler. Due to COVID, instead of it being at a state park, the race took place at a horse ranch and consisted of 3 loops: Red (4.8mi)x2, Orange (7.3mi)x3 and Yellow (6.1mi)x3 – all filled with more sand than you’d hope.
We started with the 100K racers at a dark 6 am start line. It was great, to one – be on a starting line again, and two – for us all to have done so much work to be ready and then to immediately head off in the wrong direction. It was clear that a lot of us we’re either not physically or mentally present during the pre-race brief literally 15-minutes prior to the start.
The race then continued just as anyone would have thought it to – in the dark, unable to really see the markings and just a group of 95 people with headlamps occasionally yelling “found it!” or “wrong way!” until the first loop was completed about an hour later.
Community was formed from the start with how laughably poor we had paid any mind to directions. I found myself for the first few laps with the lead pack consisting of A.J., Josh and Garrett. We thankfully had plenty of time for introductions after realizing the sand would keep all of us from having any record-shattering performances. Even more – we all got along very well and were content with just figuring out the loops together for at least the first set.
With the first 18ish miles done, we were on our way to the second red loop. “Our” meaning mine and Josh’s, who I ended up running the rest of the race with. He stopped to grab some extra nutrition and I kept jogging, soon to find out in the wrong direction – again. Back on course, we decided it was time to be a bit more smart with everything. Walk when the sand is too deep and wastes energy, find the best sides to run on now so later it’s not even a decision, pay attention to what’s at the aid station tables. I felt really lucky to have had Josh with me – given that not only was he great at conversation, but he also had experience running 50 milers already.
After the last red lap at mile 22ish, we started on another Orange, which we had agreed was the best lap with the ‘least’ amount of sand. After starting with a vest, I had switched to a handheld while my pacer Julian – who couldn’t start until about halfway – refilled my soft flasks. Josh and I continued to flow easily through the miles just chatting about everything under the sun. It wasn’t until we were coming into the second Yellow lap and we had reached the halfway point and I started to question everything.
At roughly 50K, Julian was able to come in to pace, pass off my vest in exchange for the handheld and just be a refreshed and lively body to help Josh and I get out of the slump we were in. Simultaneously, this is where I also started to fall apart. After a hard fall at mile 32 and suddenly thankful for the bounty of sand to fall into, my hamstrings and IT bands started to suggest we stop. Everything was tight, my knee felt like it needed to pop and a full stride extension felt like it would rip my hamstrings apart. I wanted to cry but could only heave and then realized, oh wow my body is too tired to cry. That was a first.
I was giving it my absolute all to stay with Josh but Julian was able to tell that wasn’t going to be smart and subtly helped me let Josh go. At the next aid station I decided it was time to eat everything. Half a PB&J, bag of potato chips, cups of blue gatorade, ginger ale and flat coke – it was the most euphoric moment I had ever experienced and suddenly I was whole.
By mile 40, the gang was back together as in, we caught back up with Josh – which is a generous statement since it was more us yo-yoing back and forth with him. The jokes had largely stopped and the only thing we knew was we were almost done but still weren’t totally convinced. We were sitting in 3rd and 4th up until this point and we had fully mastered the fast shuffle. I continued to stop at every aid station to grab a PB&J and a flat coke, while Josh would let me know he was going to continue ‘meandering’ ahead but would wait for me to catch up.
It wasn’t until we finished the last Orange loop and were on the final Yellow that Josh more or less started racing me. Julian did his best to keep me going and for the first time in a couple hours, we went more than 2 miles without walking. My hamstrings felt like they were going to snap if I even tried to lengthen my stride by a centimeter, my right knee had lost most range of motion, my lower back was just continuing to spazz. I had never been in a position where the mindset was just to finish and to block out everything else around me and follow Julian’s steps.
With about a mile to go, Josh had fully dropped me on a hill. I had never been more fine with being dropped in my life. The final stretch to the finish was about 200-meters long and lined with people sitting under their canopies or in their chairs clapping and cheering endlessly as all of the runners came through – no one really knowing who was in what race, but still very intimately part of every runner’s experience.
I crossed the finish line in 7 hours, 36 minutes and 2 seconds, able to feel every millisecond of time we were out there. Shortly after I came through, our good pal Garrett made his way to the finishline too. We cheered for him and he cheered for us and A.J. who dropped us early on and never looked back, came over too to say hi and to digest what we all just went through.
I don’t think I can stress enough the unique experience it was to not only share so much time – but also to have banded together at the start and to all have individually and silently decided that yes, these are the people I will rely on. That seems like a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that also happened at the perfect time.
The great thing about running is all of the different ways you can go about it. You are able to find which type of running (indoor, outdoor, trail, road, track, the list goes on) fits you best and easily tailor activity around that.
For those who want to ‘find their fit’ in trail running, this one is for you.
We share the best trail running shoes for the rugged and smooth trails of 2021.
BREAKING DOWN THE TRAIL RUNNING MYTH
Daily summits on local mountains, hitting trails to get thousands of feet of vertical gain, jumping on, off and over rocks and roots. These things are all cool, and yes are the experiences of some runners who have access and time to commit to The Trail™, however, the reality of trail running is that these experiences don’t need to be everyone’s experience nor are they a prerequisite to being considered a trail runner.
Breaking down this trail running myth is essential to entering the sport. So what is daily trail running? It’s your local trails, your local bike paths, the one-foot-long span of dirt you have in your neighborhood. It’s running up the hills in your neighborhood and conquering those local summits.
These two worlds do have one common intersection – shoes – and this is where we’ll breakdown the best trail running shoes for you.
Sunrise summits on rocky and uneven trails? Sign the Altra Lone Peak up. The Lone Peak is a trail runner’s dream using Altra EGO midsole for a responsive yet soft ride and a MaxTrac™ outsole to give you that grippy and secure feel on the trail.
Road shoes, meet trail shoes. Trail shoes, meet road shoes. The HOKA Challenger ATR combines the best of both shoes to make the doorstep to trail a smooth and seamless transition. All Terrain is in the name, afterall.
This neutral trail running shoe was designed with broad, closely spaced zonal lugs so you can stay in control on the trail and still have a soft landing while on the roads.
Ditch the roads and the hit the trails in 2021 with the help of our friends over at Altra Running! The Altra Red Team athletes have compiled a list of their favorite trails to run on throughout the United States.
If you are predominately a road or treadmill runner, trails are a great way to mix up your training and can offer a breathtaking escape from the every day pounding of the pavement.
Check out the recommendations from the Altra Red Team as they highlight their favorite trails from each region across the United States.
“There are over 100 miles of trails with lots of great hills and plenty of space to explore. The Skyline trail is a favorite—it leads you to an outlook with impressive views of Boston and the Atlantic.” -Katie Kloss
“Devil’s Path in the Catskill Mountains is not for the faint of heart—it lives up to its name! Just over 24 miles point-to-point with close to 9,000 feet of climbing, it’s considered one of the toughest hiking trails in the Eastern US due to the rugged terrain over multiple peaks.” -Laura Kline
“You’ll experience rolling hills as you climb through a mature forest on rocky single track. Keep your eyes up as you climb for a glimpse of the majestic Holy Hill basilica, which sits on a hill perched high above the surrounding area.” -Annie Weiss
Mines of Spain 100 Loop
Location: Dubuque, IA
Elevation Gain: 2,388 ft
“This route has everything from fast, flat, dirt single track, to steep, technical climbs, prairie, dense forest, creek crossings, and everything in between. The route offers stunning views of the Mississippi River, a tour through the iconic Horseshoe Bluff, an old farmstead, and the Julien Dubuque monument.” -Christine Burns
“The trail is shaped like a lollypop, going up, around and back, and is about 6.5 to 7 miles long. The trail looks up to Death Canyon and you have a decent chance of seeing bears while you’re out.” -Pam Reed
“Along the route, you will find brilliantly colored glacier lilies, wind-blown subalpine firs, and some vociferous marmots. Once you’ve reached the top of the mountain, you’re greeted with a breathtaking view of Chimney Rock, Hunt Lake, Priest Lake, and the surrounding mountains. It’s spectacular.” -Steph Rodgers
“You’ll have big sections of the trail to yourself and climb more than 6,000 feet from Mount Baldy village to the summit. You’ll enjoy wildflowers, stunning panoramic views of the Angeles National Forest, and you might even see a mountain goat or two.” -Sarah McMahon
“You can see the view of downtown Denver in one direction, and a view of Red Rocks in another. There are lots of wildflowers in the spring and summer and you may run into some deer if you are lucky.” -Junko Kazukawa
“It’s a great trail for short runs, hikes, rides, or 50k-plus long runs or rides. You can stick to fast flats or take on more technical hills and climbs by hitting the various peaks. It’s really a fun place to play. In the summer you can even take a swim in the lake after your run.” -Marc Henn
“The Mount Kessler Trail System is a great representation of the Ozarks. I love the rocks, boulders, roots, the views of the Boston Mountains to the south, and downtown Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas campus to the northeast.” -Cliff Pittman
“Just a short drive west of Atlanta, you will be transported to stunning views over approximately 8 miles of whitewater-filled creeks, boulders, and remote forest. Additionally, this route passes the ruins of the New Manchester Mill, which was used as a filming location for The Hunger Games. This route combines the Red, White, and Yellow trails in the park and provides a pleasant change in scenery every few miles, which keeps my mind and legs engaged.” -Amanda Yu-Nguyen
“It has roots, sandy trails, and even some rocks. It also offers a little bit of climbing which is hard to find in this region. This 4-mile loop which combines a few different trails within the park offers some scenic views of the Neuse River and combines singletrack and doubletrack trails. While not overly technical, the Park is great for all ages and is perfect for running those short to mid-range distance runs.” -Justin McLamb
Special thanks to Altra Running and the Altra Red Team for sharing their trail recommendations!
Do you have a favorite trail or hidden gem? Share it with us on social media on Facebook or Instagram
Have you ever found yourself in a funk about running? Or feel like your training has plateaued? Or had the feeling you just don’t feel like running?
We all have!
As frustrating as those moments can be, they’re a natural part of training — especially in the dog days of summer and when we don’t have any races to focus on.
There are many ways to rejuvenate your running, but few as failsafe as trail running. Going for a trail run and implementing off-road running into your weekly regiment can work wonders for you with numerous physical, mental and emotional benefits. Here’s how …
6 BENEFITS OF TRAIL RUNNING
1. Trail running is different.
The best thing about trail running is what it is not. When we’re running on the smooth and generally flat roads, we’re often concerned with the pace we’re running, the mileage we’re running and how consistent our movements are. But when we’re on the trail, those aren’t the things that matter most.
Out on the trails, the surface is always changing, so our pace, our gait and our consistency can vary greatly. Embrace those differences and the inherent challenges that trail running brings and don’t worry about your pace or even there are some sections that are so steep you might have to walk.
2. Trail running is an escape.
Let’s face it, running on the roads or bike paths of the urban or suburban grid can be tedious. But running on trails — no matter if it’s a route through a local park, along a nearby river or over a mountain pass — can be a glorious and refreshing escape. Trail running allows you to get away from the monotony (and crowded places) for an hour or two, but it also provides you with a connection to nature, different scenery, a chance to view wildflowers and exciting destinations to run to.
Running to a through a forest, reaching the summit of a peak (no matter how big or small) or running to a waterfall can be a small but exhilarating way to stimulate your running.
3. Trail running is an adventure.
Trail running can put a dose of wild into our lives. Unlike running on the roads or doing workouts prescribed on your training plan, trail running can be a full-on adventure. Some trails are decidedly harder, more remote and more inspiring than others.
If you make it a point to seek out a unique, semi-remote trail once a week, you can experience that bit of thrilling, hard-to-describe excitement that is more common to mountain biking, rock climbing and backpacking than it is to road running.
4. Trail running is a great workout.
Even though you might not be doing tempo runs, intervals or even monitoring your pace, trail running can be a remarkable workout. Running on trails works different muscles groups, requires greater agility and typically involves unpredictable acute heart rate spikes than road running. There’s no question that it can build aerobic fitness, but it can also build your overall strength and endurance in ways that road running cannot. Plus, the softer surfaces of trails are easier on your body, too.
Consider doing your weekly long runs to the trails to discover an enhanced level of endurance. Or convert your 6 x 800-meter track interval session into a 6 x 3-minute hill repeat session on a moderately inclined trail for an enhanced level of fitness.
5. Trail running is fun.
As much as we all love to run, sometimes we feel like it’s a chore. That almost never happens out on the trails. Trail running has a different vibe that makes it feel less about the monotony of running. It’s more like you’re playing in the woods with your friends like you did as a kid. Checking out the views, spotting a deer, or even engaging in the shared struggled of a hard hill or a fast descent are all part of that fun vibe that can inspire you to run trails more often, plan long weekend trail running outings with friends and sign up for trail running races.
6. Trail running will light your fire.
Trail running will challenge you, inspire you and engage you in different ways. Just as there are ways to “think outside the box,” trail running is a way to “run outside the box” on a regular basis. As you become more proficient at running on trails — learning how to become more agile, carrying the right gear and knowing how to find fun, remote and scenic trails — you’ll likely find yourself enjoying it more and more.
You don’t have go far or run precarious trails in the mountains; it starts with a good pair of trail running shoes and a curious sense of adventure. It won’t take long before you’ve rejuvenated your running like never before.