Running will strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your cardiovascular fitness and lung capacity, help you keep your weight where it should be, give you the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and enhance your overall health and well-being.
But while you are reaping all the benefits of a regular running program, you’ll need to avoid the downside – the possibility that wearing the wrong type of shoes could bring you more pain than gain, especially if you are spending time on the many trails available to exercise enthusiasts in the Tucson area.
“Our trails are rocky and technical here in Southern Arizona, and we recommend a trail-specific shoe that provides additional traction and protection,” says Anne Stancil, owner of two Fleet Feet Sports stores in the Tucson area.
She points out that there are two components that make a good trail shoe the ideal choice for off-road running. The first is a rock shield, a thin layer of plastic or polymer underneath the sole “that reduces the discomfort of rocks pressing into your foot.” In addition, the tread on the bottom of a trail shoe is more robust and more resilient to the rocky terrain.
“A trail shoe will also give you a bit more traction for wet conditions as well,” Stancil adds.
If you divide your time between roads and trails, it’s a good idea to have two types of shoes. The upside of owning more than one pair, is that they both will last longer. However, Stancil advises that if you choose to run in the same shoes every time, you should purchase a pair that suits your preferred running or walking surface.
“Take stock of what you do the most,” she says. “You can occasionally do trails with a good road shoe and vice versa.”
According to Stancil, shoes are not the only thing necessary for successful trail running and hiking in the Tucson area. You should always carry water and fuel — plan to bring more water than you think you’ll drink — along with high-energy snacks that don’t take up a lot of space, such as granola bars and trail mix. And always let a friend or family member know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone.
She adds you should stay on the trail and be aware of rare but possibly dangerous encounters with wildlife such as rattlesnakes, bobcats, mountain lions, gila monsters and javalinas.
“Listen to and watch your surroundings,” Stancil says. “Be aware of the critters that are out there with you. It’s just a question of making sure you are well-prepared.”
If you are interested in hitting the trails, but not sure where to go, looks for organized groups and events.
Stop into either of the two Tucson-area Fleet Feet locations: 7607 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley and 7301 East Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. To learn more, visit www.fleetfeettucson.com or call 520-219-2323 or 520-886-7800.