The Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running

6 10 2016


Whether you’re stuck in a running rut, bored by your neighborhood routes or just plain hate the treadmill, it might be time to leave the road behind and head to the trails. And you won’t be alone: More than 5.8 million runners around the country have already discovered an all-natural running high in the great outdoors. According to a recent Sports and Industry Fitness Association survey, trail running in the U.S. increased by more than eight percent from 2011 to 2012. But fresh air and tranquility are only a few of the reasons people are running away from the busy streets and into the wild woods.


Endurance runner Ian Sharman, during the Western States 100 ultra marathon. Photo courtesy of

But endurance runner Ian Sharman, a trail running expert, certified NASM personal trainer and USATF coach, says trail running is also about adventure. “I first got started with trail running in 2004 when I saw Marathon of the Sands, a documentary about racing in the Sahara Desert,” says Sharman, who wasn’t even a runner at the time. “I called up a friend, convinced him to train with me, and 18 months after seeing the film I ran the Marathon des Sables.” Sharman has since completed more than 180 marathons and ultramarathons, most recently winning the grueling 2013 Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run.

How to Get Started

If you’re ready for an adventure of your own, follow Sharman’s lead as he shares some of the best tips beginners should know before hitting the trails. We’ll cover everything from gear to etiquette to conquering those hills — and how to stay safe every step of the way.

1. Blaze a Trail

You don’t have to trek into a deep, dark forest to begin. “Trail running includes anything that is off-road and away from paved surfaces,” Sharman says. “It could be as simple as a bike path or just running in the grass, dirt or sand.” Beginners can get started on flat terrain, perhaps with a cross-country run in the grass of a park. “Since you’ll still be around other people, you don’t have to worry about getting lost,” he says. From there, consider joining a local trail running group or find popular trails in your area. While it may seem intimidating at first, trail running “is a very welcoming, friendly community and something anyone who enjoys the act of running itself can do,” Sharman says.

2. Grab the Right Gear

While you’re probably not going to reach mud run levels of filthiness, you’re still likely to get pretty dirty in a more rugged environment, so wear clothing you don’t mind getting messy or ripped. As for shoes, whatever running sneakers you normally lace up are generally fine — again, as long as you don’t mind them getting dirty or wet. Many people think trail-specific footwear, much like a hiking shoe, offers runners more stability. But the act of trail running, with all its bouncing around, actually strengthens your ankles all on its own. “Specialized shoes do become important in trail running when you need more grip on trails that are muddy and slippery, or more cushioning for rougher, sharper terrain,” he says.

And just like any adventure, it’s best to come prepared with some basic essentials. These include water (usually in the form of a sleek handheld bottle or a hydration pack), bug spray and a headlamp if you plan to run when it’s dark outside.

3. Put Safety First

If you do progress out of the local park and go more remote, think of trail running with the same precautions you would use for hiking, Sharman advises. Tell someone where you’re going and bring a map and cell phone (in the off chance you get lost). It’s also a good idea to run with a friend if possible and do a little research on what wildlife might be lurking in the area.

Sharman also suggests leaving headphones at home so you’re able to stay tuned in to your surroundings and mindful of other runners (plus, research says a strong connection to nature does the mind and body good!). As for keeping your eyes peeled, proper road running form generally means keeping your gaze tall, not down at your feet. But with trail running, you’ll need to be more conscious about where you’re stepping. As you run, look a few yards ahead of you on the trail to watch for trail markers — and so you don’t trip on tree roots or land head first in a muddy puddle.


McKenzie River Trail, a popular destination for trail running. Photo courtesy of

4. Take It Slow (Or Even Walk!)

On smaller trails, it’s proper etiquette to be courteous to walkers and hikers. So don’t blow right by them just because you’re faster; maintain a safe distance between other runners and let faster runners go ahead of you.

“In road running and racing, it’s about competition and times, but trail running is a bit more relaxed and for fun,” says Sharman (the same guy who holds the record for fastest U.S. time in a 100-mile trail race, mind you). If you’re obsessive about crunching your Garmin’s numbers, recognize that trail running is more about effort level than splits and pace per mile.

Runners will usually be much slower on trails than they are on roads, due to the challenges of the natural terrain and its unforeseen obstacles that force you to slow down. In a recent race, Sharman says he switched from a 20 min/mile to 5 min/mile when he was faced with a massive hill. Unlike road racing, walking is not frowned upon or considered “giving up” and is seen as one of the most important ways of getting to the finish line. “Walking is a very valid part of trail running, especially the longer it gets or the tougher the terrain is,” says Sharman. “Many people, including myself, say they ‘run 100 miles,’ but very few people literally ‘run’ every step.”

5. Find Your High

Trail running may still sound challenging to beginners, but Sharman stresses that time away from the streets — and eventually up in the mountains — should be fun. “Once I’ve done a big climb, I just love the feeling of hammering it downhill,” he says. “It feels like playing and I don’t always feel like I’m playing when I’m just logging miles on the road.”

When you’re on the trails, try to capture those special moments that get you most excited. It could be as simple as taking in a mighty view. Sharman has run all over in the world in scenic locations including the Himalayas, European Alps and of course, the Sahara Desert. But he says one of his favorite things about trail running is its unique vantage point to unearth the beauty of your own backyard.

“Around San Francisco where I live, I run a lot in Marin County,” he says. “I could be running along a trail and as I crest the hill, catch a glimpse of the very top of the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s the kind of magic you don’t always get in road racing.”

For more trail running tips, follow Ian Sharman on Twitter at @sharmanian. And to find a trail near you, visit the directories from the American Trail Running Association and

Full article can be found at:


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Why Your Dog Needs a Dog Life Jacket

30 08 2016

Jan Reisen | June 09, 2016

While some dog breeds are natural swimmers, like retrievers and spaniels, others are less suited to the water. Either way, if you and your pet plan to spend time in or on the water, a dog life jacket is a wise investment. Even good swimmers can tire, have trouble staying buoyant, and struggle to keep their heads above water. Some breeds, such as Bulldogs, have body types less suited to swimming and will need help staying afloat. If your dog accompanies you on a boat, a personal flotation device (PFD) is essential. If he falls overboard, he’ll struggle in rough water, a strong current, or large waves. A dog life jacket makes it easier for him to stay above water and easier for you to retrieve him and get him back on board.

Choosing a Life Jacket For Your Dog

There are no standards or certifications for canine life jackets or life vests, but here are some features to look for:

  • A handle will make it easier for you to grab hold of your dog if he’s floundering. It also makes it easier to teach your dog to swim; you can guide him in the water until he feels confident swimming on his own.
  • The life jacket or vest should have a D-ring so you can attach a leash.
  • Decide whether your dog need a life jacket or a vest. Dog life jackets cover more of the dog and provide both buoyancy and visibility. They’re recommended for boating and any time your dog may be in open or rough water. If your dog swims primarily in a pool, a life vest is lighter, covers less area, and and is easier for swimming.
  • Although dog life jackets come in all sorts of fun colors and prints, bright colors will make it easier to spot him in the water.

Even if you think your dog is an Olympic swimmer, any dog can be overcome with fatigue, struggle in the waves, become disoriented in the water, or just need a little extra buoyancy. A life jacket will keep him safe, help him feel confident in the water and help you bring him back on board or back to shore in an emergency.


Chica, a River House staff member’s dog, attending the Family Stand-Up Paddleboarding class. Photo by Kelly Beal Photography.


Types of Life Jackets to Consider

Be sure to check sizing guides to get the right fit for your dog.

Outward Hound Ripstop Life Jackets
This life jacket has easy-grab handles, high-viz colors, quick release buckles and multiple reflective stripes.

K-9 Float Coat from Ruffwear
A telescoping neck closure is adjustable for different size dogs.The jacket also features a strong handle for lifting a dog out of the water, reflective trim and closed cell foam panels.

PAWS Aboard Neoprene Pet Life Jackets
A breathable mesh underbelly helps drain water quickly to keep your dog drier and cooler when he comes out of the water.

He&Ha Pet Quality Dog Life Jacket Adjustable Dog Life Vest Preserver
This vest style flotation device has a convenient top grab handle, a D-ring to attach a leash, vibrant safety colors and mesh holes for ventilation.


Bravo, a River House staff member’s dog, attending the Family Stand-Up Paddleboarding class. Photo by Kelly Beal Photography.


Full article can be found at:

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The River House celebrates 50 years of teaching outdoor skills

17 08 2016

July 24, 2016

Fifty years ago, the city of Eugene’s River House Outdoor Center was officially established — and now, the city is celebrating.

The two-story farmhouse, nicknamed the River House, originally served as a shelter to store outdoor equipment such as canoes, kayaks, mountain climbing gear and camping supplies. Eventually, the house was transformed into an operational office and space to organize and run mostly local outdoor programs.

But the expansive Outdoor Program associated with the historic house now provides the surrounding community with much more.

“The goal of the Outdoor Program has always been to teach people the skills they need so they can confidently go out and enjoy nature,” said Roger Bailey, the Outdoor Program coordinator at the River House. “But oftentimes it teaches people more than that, like tolerating adversity and putting your best foot forward even when it’s hard.”

On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at Maurie Jacobs Park, near the River House on Adams Street at the edge of the Willamette River, to celebrate the 50-year milestone.

Like any true outdoor celebration, people could be seen bicycling up and down the river path, paddleboarding near the banks of the river and dancing to the bluesy tunes coming from a small stage.

Cedar Sparrow, 12, said he was most excited to eat some cake and play by the river.

“I’m just going to volunteer as much as I can and hopefully get some cake!” Sparrow said.

Sparrow, who was wearing a yellow River House volunteer shirt, said he likes to do a lot of outdoor activities, including tree climbing and rafting down the McKenzie River.


Stand up paddle boarders paddle the Willamette river near some geese at the River House Outdoor Program 50th anniversary celebration in Eugene on Saturday, July 23rd, 2016. (Adam Eberhardt/The Register-Guard)

Robert Brack was one of several River House employees helping put on Saturday’s event. He and other volunteers were making bracelets out of retired rock climbing ropes by cutting them into small pieces and cauterizing the edges together.

People of all ages picked out the color of rope they wanted to take home as outdoorsy bracelets.

Brack was joined by his wife, Kristen Brack, and their three children, who were helping man the bracelet booth.

“The inclusivity of the organization is one of the best parts about the River House,” Kristen Brack said. “They have something for kids and all the way up to seniors, and they have great adaptive programs as well. They make it so that everyone can have an outdoor experience in Eugene.”

The River House provides guided lessons in nearly every outdoor activity imaginable — including but not limited to tree climbing, bike riding, wilderness survival skills, whitewater rafting, sailing and skiing. The program also offers several free and low-cost instructional classes as well as day camps and drop-in sessions, with options for people of all ages.

Bailey, 56, has worked at the River House for the past 30 years. He says the reason the program has been successful is because of the passion of its staff.

“The people who work here, when they’re enjoying their free time, they’re doing what they do in their job,” he said. “They bring a rich experience to Eugene.”

The city-run program has five full-time employees and 84 part-time employees who specialize in different outdoor specialties.

“Not everyone who works here makes a living,” Bailey said. “They’re just doing it because they’re passionate about it and they love doing it.”

Mel Jackson, an advocate for wild spaces, established the River House in 1966. The program was then expanded, thanks to sponsorships from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department as well as The Register-Guard in the 1970s.

“He was of the belief that if people go out, they’re more likely to want to advocate for it and preserve it,” Bailey said.

The first outdoor classes included backpacking basics, wilderness survival skills, mountaineering and cooking in the outdoors.

“The most expensive workshop that year was camp cooking,” he said. “It was $2 per person.”

Follow Alisha on Twitter @alisharoemeling. Email .



What: The Outdoor Program at the River House offers a wide range of activities such as snowboarding, skiing, kayaking, rafting, sailing, hiking, rock climbing, tree climbing and more to help all Eugene and Springfield-are a residents take advantage of all outdoor experiences.

Where: 301 N. Adams St.

Hours: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

Contact: 541-682-5329

Full article can be found at:

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Dave Mirra and the effects of CTE

24 05 2016

If you were under 30 through the late 90’s and 2000’s; more than likely you’ve heard his name even if you never saw his amazing and fearless BMX moves.  Dave Mirra’s skills were unmatched and he seemed to be invisible on a bike.  I never rode BMX, but an athlete that can hone such a mastery of their craft always brings inspiration.


Sadly; Mirra committed suicide on February 4th leaving behind his wife and two kids.  Mirra’s condition has now been diagnosed as CTE, the diagnosis that is normally in the news about football players and the depression it can lead to.  Mirra is possibly the first outdoor/adventure/action athlete to be diagnosed with the condition that is caused by multiple head impacts.

The following is from ESPN the Magazine.  By: Alyssa Roenigk

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House on the River

23 05 2016

 Eugene’s River House celebrates 50 years

Eugene's River House

Eugene’s River House

Ah, Eugene, “a great city for the arts and outdoors,” especially if you have the right gear, training and financial means to actually get down and dirty in the area’s natural wonders.

One factor for enjoying the outdoors is having access in the first place. The Eugene Rec Outdoor Program provides just that for Eugeneans, and the organization’s 50th anniversary is right around the corner.

Originally established by clean-water advocate Mel Jackson and the city of Eugene in the late 1960s, the outdoor program later was expanded by the Eugene Parks and Rec department. The group eventually acquired the nickname River House, seeing as the building is smack dab on the river. Canoeing, rock-climbing, white-water rafting and other activities have been added to the program’s activity list over time, and accessibility for the courses is a consistent factor for the River House team.

“We have a goal of making our program inclusive and accessible to anyone wanting to participate,” says program supervisor Roger Bailey, who’s been with River House for nearly 30 years. Bailey says he’s seen the positive community influence that accessible outdoor programs offer. “That is our mission,” Bailey says, “to help people grow and to help make this community a better place to live.”

For Bailey, this means approaching courses with “cultural respect, accountability, honesty and integrity.” He says more energy is going towards focusing on financial accessibility, and a youth sailing course provided by the outdoor program was recently able to share scholarships for low-income children.

“Every walk of life comes here to take our programs,” Bailey explains. River House programs provide people with, as he puts it, skills that need to be learned outside of school or work. Whether you’re feeling like honing your outdoorsy side in town or want to put some spur-of-the-moment REI purchase to the test out in the forest, the program has activities for all levels, and few exceed a $40 price tag — not to mention the handful of courses that are free to the public.

The River House’s 50th-anniversary celebration will be 4 to 7 pm Saturday, July 23, at 301 N. Adams Street, with food, circus arts, cake, kayaks and paddle boards provided at the event; more info at

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Lovely Penny Arcade

11 04 2016

Just as it seemed music videos were dead, along comes OK Go and their brilliance in film making.  This new video from Jane Bordeaux for the song Ma’agalim is nothing like the OK Go films, but still has a certain Rube Goldberg quality to it.  It is beautifully created and matched well with the music.  I have no clue what this song is about but Trust it’s Lovely.

What does this have to do with an outdoor blog?  Nothing, and I hope it makes you smile.

Ma’agalim – Jane Bordeaux from Uri Lotan on Vimeo.

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Central Oregon Avalanches Happen

4 02 2016


From the Central Oregon Avalanche Association:

Avalanches DO happen in Central Oregon.  Skiers and snowboarders are at risk whenever they enter the backcountry, and with more and more people in the BC, the risks are not just limited to just you and your group.  We suppose it wasn’t long before something like the following incident would occur, and we are bringing it to our community’s attention because we believe that there are important lessons to be learned and talked about.
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