How to Start Running

For many of you reading this, running is already an important part of your life. You spend your mornings fitting in a few miles before and your weekends out accumulating miles on the trail. For some of you, however your interest in this site has been purely aspirational. This post is for you.

Running is an excellent, inexpensive, and completely individual way to get in shape, pick up a hobby, and learn about Utah’s geography. While the sport might seem inaccessible, gaining mileage simply takes time and patience. The first run is always the hardest. Once you get past your first few miles, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a runner. In the meantime, here are few tips to help you get started.

Set a goal. Whether you want to run a mile or a marathon, set your goal early in your running regime. Then, make a plan to get to that goal. Rather than promising to run a certain number of times or miles each week, set monthly goals to ease yourself into the sport. This will allow for increased flexibility, and you won’t feel pressured to go out when you don’t want to.

 

Start with long walks. Before you start running, get your body moving and your heart rate up by taking several long, fast-paced runs. This will help to improve cardiovascular health prior to running. Then, introduce small bursts of running on your walks; try walking for a mile, then running for a half mile, then walking for a mile. Gradually tilt your walk/run ratio in favor of running. Before you know it, you’ll be running the entire distance.

 

Get the appropriate gear. You need to be safe and comfortable in order to fully enjoy running. Find a pair of running shoes that works for your lifestyle and goal. If you’re not sure where to start, visit your local running store and ask a sales associate to help you out.

 

Eat, drink, and sleep right. Keep yourself hydrated and energized by eating whole foods and drinking plenty of water, especially during the evenings before longer runs. Don’t be afraid to indulge in some high-calorie meals—you’re likely to run longer and faster with more energy to use. Additionally, try to get a full eight hours of sleep every night—running on just a few hours of sleep is both difficult and uncomfortable.

Trail Running Shoes vs. Road Running Shoes

In Utah, runners come in all shapes, sizes, and disciplines. The most divisive line, however, is the one that forms two of the most popular running forms: trail and road running. Trail runners practice, of course, on trails and mountain courses, hurdling over roots and other obstacles while gaining and losing a significant amount of elevation. In contrast, road runners often prioritize speed and distance over exploration, utilizing the stability of concrete to propel through the state’s vast cities. No matter where you live in Utah, you likely have access to both types of running—some of you might even practice both. If this is the case, however, you should understand the requirements of each sport. Trail running and road running have vastly different footwear requirements. Here’s what you need to know before heading out to buy a pair.

Trail runners have more traction. Trail shoes are made with sturdier rubber and cleat-like luge to grip the ground beneath your feet when traversing muddy, rocky, or root-covered surfaces. This allows you to make tighter turns, and you’ll feel more stable than you would in a pair of road shoes.

 

Road shoes are lighter. Road shoes prioritize economy over everything, and they are often made of lighter, less durable material to help runners float over city sidewalks. They almost never include ankle gaiter attachments, rarely consisting of more than a cushioned sole.

 

Trail runners have a different fit. These shoes fit snugly around the midfoot, allowing your shoes to stay in place over uneven terrain. A wider forefoot will allow your toes to splay out and grip the trail, which is especially important when going up and down hills. Road runners, however, have a narrower toe box, prioritizing footfall rather than stability.

 

The outsoles are vastly different. Trail runners have solid outsoles with protruding lugs to increase durability and traction. Road runners have lighter weight blown rubber, and most have exposed EVA foam to cut down on weight.

Seven Types of Running Workouts

Becoming a better runner takes time, endurance, and a lot of patience. However, it will also require a bit of education. If you’ve been running the same course or city blocks for the past few months, you may have noticed a plateau in your progress—maybe you haven’t been able to PR in weeks, or perhaps your distances are maxed out. The best way to improve your times and distances is to switch up your runs; varying the types of running workouts you complete will help to strengthen your cardiovascular system and muscles in new, challenging ways. You’ll boost endurance, efficiency, and aerobic capacity, plus you’ll reduce your chance of injury. Here are the seven types of runs you should incorporate into your weekly schedule, whether you’re just trying to switch it up or reaching for that next PR.

 

  • Base RunThis is a short- to moderate-length run that will take up the bulk of your weekly mileage. This should be done at your natural pace, and it is not meant to be overly challenging. Basically, this is what you’ve been doing.

 

  • Progression Run—This type of run is designed to begin at your base run pace and end at a faster pace—closer to how you’d like to perform during a race, or the pace your new 10K PR would be at. For example, this type of run would consist of four miles at base pace, then one mile at PR pace. Designed to be challenging, this is an excuse for you to go all out at the end of the workout.

 

  • Long Run—The goal of a long run is to increase distance. You don’t need to run faster than your base pace, but you should introduce adequate nutrition and hydration prep in the days before these runs. If you generally run 5-6 miles every day, a long run should be in the double-digits—or whatever you feel comfortable with.

 

  • Fartlek—In essence, a Fartlek run is a less rigorous form of interval training. You’ll want to mix in a few intervals (Spring at maximum speed until that tree in the distance), but nothing too intense. An example of a Fartlek would be 5 miles at your normal pace with 10 spurts of increase speed for 30-60 seconds.

 

  • Intervals—Interval training is difficult but invigorating. These runs contain both short and long bursts of intense effort separated by equal or longer segments of slower running or jogging. Intense segments should have you pushing yourself to an uncomfortable pace. This type of running will increase speed and boost efficiency and fatigue resistance.

 

  • Tempo Run—This is a run performed at the fastest pace you can sustain for a period of time. Also called threshold runs, these workouts will help you to increase sustained speed. Tempo runs are very challenging, and they often require a lot of recovery time.

 

  • Recovery Run—These are short runs done at a relatively easy pace. This is the best way to reintroduce yourself to workouts after an especially difficult tempo or interval run. Go as slow as you need to in order to overcome fatigue or soreness.

 

The Trail Run Project

We’ve all been there: you have a lot of energy, and you want to channel it into a great run. But where to go? Your normal route is beginning to get stale, but you don’t know enough about other trails to safely head out on your own. By the time you make the decision, your pre-run high has left; you either head out on your usual path or skip the run altogether.

Utah runners are trying to fix that. Enter: Trail Run Project. This is a crowd-sourced website for cataloging the best trails for running. The site posts local weather advisories, forecasts, and warnings for those running in certain areas. Individuals can search for routes by location using the helpful map. Trails are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and users can search by experience, difficulty, distance, and rating.

An interesting community has popped up around the Trail Run Project. Users upload helpful photos, reviews, and advice regarding their favorite trails. If you see somebody posting enough, and you run that route enough, you’re nearly guaranteed to run into them! I’ve attended a few running meet-ups organized by people on the site, and it’s a really cool way to get to know your area and runners who love Utah as much as you do!

Each trail review has several pieces of important information. You’ll get a map of the route with clearly marked starting and stopping points, helpful directional arrows, and a rating created from cumulative group reviews. An elevation map will show you where increases and decreases are scattered throughout the trail, and pictures will help you anticipate the type of views and terrain you’ll likely experience.

Below these images, you will see a list of important figures. This will include trail length, the percentage of the trail that is runnable, ascent and descent footage, the average and maximum grades, and the highest and lowest elevation points. Below that, you’ll see the forecast, and below that, you’ll see other runners’ reviews, photos, and favorite features.

I’ve been using this project to branch out of my usual running routine, and you should too. Rather than sitting around on the computer looking for the perfect route, save your favorites and choose one at random. You’re bound to have an interesting and unique experience.

 

Why You Should Run the Utah Valley Marathon

Regardless of your location, marathons require months of intensive training, strict dieting, and a deep reserve of both physical and mental toughness. When it comes to choosing marathons and long-distances races, it makes sense that runners get a little picky. Races can be expensive, and they take months of physical and mental preparation. That said, some races are, objectively, better than others. That’s how we feel about the Clarke Capital Utah Valley Marathon in Provo. Here’s why this should be the marathon you choose this year.

It’s gorgeous. Sure, we’re talked about how beautiful it can be to run in Utah. But if you’re going to run 26.2 miles, you should do it somewhere with consistently spectacular views. That’s what this marathon can offer. The Utah Valley Marathon winds through Provo Canyon, providing a running tour of diverse scenery. You’ll see waterfalls, mountains, horses, rolling farmlands… everything Utah has to offer.

The post-race party is notoriously good. Every marathon has a post-race celebration, but the Utah Valley Marathon has really honed its craft. This race is sponsored by the likes of Cinnabon and Jamba Juice. Personally, the last thing I want after 26 miles is a warm beer—bring on the cinnamon buns. Plus, they have a PR Bell for PR setters to ring.

The entire course is downhill. No, really. It’s kind of crazy. Runners are bussed to the top of Provo Canyon at the start of the race. The entire 26.2 miles are run completely downhill, and the incline is gradual enough for you to save your legs the trouble of managing the decline. Over the course of the race, you’ll lose nearly 1,500 feet in altitude. This makes the race perfect for first timers and those looking for a new PR.

It’s your best shot to qualify for Boston. Anywhere between 14 and 19 percent of Clarke Capital Utah Valley Marathoners qualify for the Boston Marathon. This is significantly higher than the national average of 12%. The combination of downhill terrain and a nice, pushing tailwind help runners get their best times ever.

 

Trail Basics for Utah Runners

Utah is known for its diverse terrain, stunning landscapes, and bountiful recreational opportunities. Runners in the state nearly always have the option between paved suburban streets, city sidewalks, and beautiful, backcountry trails. Trail running, however, is slightly harder than other forms of running. I don’t recommend jumping into it without proper equipment and knowledge. So, here’s a list of trail running basics to review before you head out.

Hydrate in advance. Utah has a pretty high elevation, and you can’t always depend on thirst to alert you to dehydration. Drink enough plan water to dilute your urine to pale yellow or clear. If you can, bring along a water supply in a handheld bottle or a refillable armband.

Get your gear. Occasional trail runners can perform well in regular running shoes, but if you make a habit of the terrain, invest in a good pair of trail runners. The treat on these shoes is more aggressive, and most have a rock plate in the sole to protect your feet from sharp rocks.

Dress appropriately. Dress as you might for a day of hiking but remove one layer (you’re more likely to work up and sustain a sweat). Use durable and comfortable clothes in quick-dry fabrics. Also, opt for close-fitting clothing to reduce chafing, and pack a layer for stops or if unpredictable mountain weather shifts.

Choose your location. I personally love the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. It’s around 100 miles and tracks along the ancient shoreline of the Great Salt Lake. It has excellent views and there’s little chance of getting lost. I also love running and hiking in ski areas. The elevation generally means slightly cooler temperatures, and you can catch some of the best views in the state.

Have fun. Trail running is an entirely unique experience, and Utah is an excellent place to try it out. Remember to not get caught up in times or performance; trail running is a humbling experience. With enough patience and practice, you’ll be able to improve your form. For now, just focus on the experience itself.

 

Why Big City Blocks are a Runners’ Garden

We were out running the other day—a gloriously beautiful and warm morning though always fleeting in Utah—and listening to morning radio the other day—many a runners’ good friend—when we heard a DJ and call-in guest discuss Salt Lake City’s “huge” city blocks and how they were detriment to city’s pedestrian-friendly vibe. At first, I started to run faster, subconsciously without realizing, then I realized, got tired, and paused for a moment altogether before setting off again at my regular pace.

Ok, first of all, yes, Salt Lake City has big city blocks. But, no, I don’t understand how big city blocks create a barrier to walking or running. I think what the person meant to say was that it’s intimidating and that it’s a psychological barrier. That’s not exactly what they said, but I’m not sure what else they could have meant. Longer city blocks make for fewer intersections and forced stops. Aside from walking and running for the activity itself, longer blocks should also mean more densely populated services. Much of Salt Lake City is underrated for its walkability.

I’ve been told that our city blocks are almost the exact same size as the blocks in New York City. But, of course, the sidewalks are a lot less crowded here. And while we may not have Central Park, more of our individual streets have greenspace in the median and more trees overhead. Then, there’s Liberty Park and Pioneer Park as well.

I know there’s a huge and gorgeous bike trail in Sugarhouse, Millcreek, Murray, South Jordan, and much of the rest of the Salt Lake Valley, but here’s a shout-out to the city center, its walkability, and as a runner’s paradise in general.

How Do People Find Run Events in Utah?

People learn about Run Events in Utah in a bunch of different ways. They hear about it from friends and neighbors, from online communities, from local newspapers and bulletin boards. But even as we live in this modern age of information and digital technologies, yard signs are another common way that people learn about running events in their community. Take this example from Run SLC Series.

Especially for those who may otherwise see running as a solitary event, or maybe someone who is looking for that serendipitous moment to take their running habit or physical fitness to the next level. In Salt Lake City, in Provo, in Ogden, and other population centers, this type of low-tech marketing solution can be surprisingly effective.

Of course, there are virtually an endless number of ways that people hear about Run Events in Utah. Tell us about how you first got involved with a running event in Utah, or just tell us about your favorite Utah running moment. We want to serve as an amplier for getting the word out.

About Utah Run Events

We want Utah Run Events to help people take their passion for running to the next level—or maybe just a different level. Sure, we want to deliver a reliable calendar of running events in Utah, but we also to help people find the groups and events that fit their personality and approach to running.

Do you think some friendly competition is just what you need to take your running to the next level? Are you primarily interested in parlaying your existing exercise routine into an opportunity to meet people and make new friends? Do you have a soft spot for charities and social causes, and you’re looking for ways to do good for others as you also do good for yourself?

Your favorite Utah Run Event is likely going to be different based on how you answer these questions. Choices will have to be made. There are hundreds of events in the state each year. No matter how much you love running and no matter how good a shape you’re in, you can’t do them all.

More to this point, the state’s geography is a blessing and a curse. The incredible geological diversity makes for an incredible amount of variety. From the Great Salt Lake to Wasatch Front to the Uinta Mountains to the desert, canyons, and arches of southern Utah, you can run against different natural backdrops and never have them grow old. But, again, you likely can’t attend an event in Ogden and one in St. George on the same weekend.

For all these reasons, we wanted to build a Utah-centric website for runners and run events. Tell us about your favorite running event or Utah run experience, and we’ll look to share this information with our audience as we construct this site.