Trail Running: Save Your Legs & Get a Runner’s High

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.


After the Derby miniMarathon & Marathon in April, why not try a different type of running: trail running.

When running on trails you can get three for the price of one: great aerobic exercise, lots of peace and quiet plus you can be entertained by some beautiful scenery. While the packed soil running surface is  much softer than the road,  there are also a number of concerns facing the trail runner: uneven surfaces, getting lost and staying well hydrated.

Keeping an eye on the trail by stepping over roots and around holes will help you prevent injury. On my first official trail run, I was participating in a boot camp where trail running was a part of the program. My first time out for the trail run, I stepped on a root and twisted my ankle so I was off running at all for about a week as a result. As a result, I decided to get a more reliable trail running shoe.  Getting a good pair of trail shoes is essential if you become a confirmed trail runner.   Trail shoes have more support than traditional running shoe. Trail running can strengthen your ankles and help with your balance.  The Trail Store located in Westport Village (1321 Herr Lane, Suite 185) has a variety of trail running shoes. Owner Jim Ball, a longtime ultramarathon trail runner, can assist you in buying your trail shoes and also he can teach you the fundamentals of trail running that you need to know before your first trip on the trails. In fact, every Saturday morning at 8:00 am Jim meets up with a group of trail running enthusiasts at the bottom of Cochran Hill in Cherokee Park for a 5-mile run on the trails in Cherokee Park.  It’s a great way to meet some other trail runners but you can get a heads-up on the trail system in Cherokee Park as well.

On the trail, you will normally run slower than in road running. Relax and enjoy the scenery & don’t be bummed at your speed. The best seasons for trail running are the fall, spring and winter. In the heat of the summer you may have to battle insects, snakes and also poison ivy.


There are lots of trails in and around the Louisville area which are excellent for running on trails. You can get the scoop on the local trails at the Trail Store or for Cherokee Park:;  for Iroquois Park or for other park trails in the area. Jim Ball said Otter Creek is scheduled to open again this spring. The cost may be $5 per car but don’t hold me to that fee because I have seen a number of different fee structures. Otter Creek has a number of really great trails for trail running.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian ( who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years.