Trail running is exactly what it sounds like: running on hiking trails. This endurance sport usually provides more elevation change and challenging terrain than your typical workout — especially compared to street or track running.
Heber Valley resident Steve Frogley didn’t start out as a runner.
“I didn’t run cross country, I didn’t run high school or college track. I hated running,” he says. It wasn’t until his late 20s when he decided to add cardio to his workout routine that he realized he actually enjoyed running. After a marathon or two (or six), he was hooked.
Now, trail running is Frogley’s passion. “It’s exhilarating to run,” he says. “Especially if it’s at sunrise and you’re in the mountains.”
Frogley also loves trail running because the community is so easygoing. As he tells the story of completing his first 100-mile race, it’s laughingly apparent why he describes it as such. “You think there’s going to be a banner and crowds cheering, and it’s this exciting thing,” he explains. “But you literally walk between two cones and they say, ‘Dude, well done! You want a sandwich?’”
That’s what’s so great about trail running. “It’s a community. It’s not ‘prestigious.’ There are no awards — we all just help each other out,” Frogley explains.
In terms of a trail running community in the Heber Valley, Frogley is a member of the Facebook group Heber Valley Trail Runners, where runners can post and organize small running groups. “If you’re a local and you want to get into trail running, we’d love to add you to the group!”
If you’re new to trail running or thinking of giving it a try, you may be wondering, “What kind of gear do I need?” Frogley says that’s one of the questions he gets asked most often. “The joy and wonder of trail running is that it’s primal,” he says. “You just need water, nutrition, shoes and (hopefully) some clothes!”
When it comes to the right trail running shoes, it mostly comes down to personal preference. Running shoes range from a zero drop (meaning the heel height is level with the forefoot, or ball of the foot, height) to higher drops such as 12 mm (meaning there is a 12 mm height difference between the heel and the forefoot). Ultimately, it’s best to first find a shoe that fits well and to then gradually try out different heel-to-toe drops to determine what drop works best for you.
When it comes to trail running, you adapt to running on a trail just like you would train for a marathon — one step at a time.
For people who are hitting the trails for the first time, its best to take it slow and steady on easier trails. Beginners should choose trails that don’t have too much elevation gain and are easily accessible in case of an injury. Ultimately, they should avoid difficult terrain until they’re ready.
For a great beginner trail, try out Deer Creek Trail. Located on the west side of the Deer Creek Reservoir from the dam to below Soldier Hollow, the trail is 15 miles out-and-back with a slight elevation gain and is wide enough for group runs. “It’s gorgeous at sunrise,” Frogley says. “The sun comes right up over the Uintahs and you get to watch the reflection of it off the water.”
In the end, trail running is about enjoying yourself. “People will tell me, ‘Oh, I’m not a runner like you,’” Frogley says. “But a runner is a runner. It doesn’t matter.”
STRAVA | ALLTRAILS
Check out these two great running apps. They’re perfect for finding local trails, tracking stats and connecting with other runners.
If you’re looking for adventure gear or for a trail-running community to join, stop by Gravity Coalition, a new community-oriented outdoor experience company in Midway.