Next weekend I’ll be running the Surly Trail Loppet through Theodore Wirth Park. I’ve ran a few half marathons and one full marathon, but have never ran a trail race before. I’ve been training for a little while on paved and crushed limestone trails, but haven’t run on any “real” trails. So, to help me train further for this, I decided to do my long run at Hyland Park.
I’ve been searching for good trails to run around the Twin Cities for a while and haven’t yielded many results. One of the last times I was in TC Running to buy myself the newest Asics Kayano, I asked an employee who was helping me where the best trails to run around the TC were. Hyland was all he could come up with. So, with this half-hearted recommendation in mind, I decided to check it out.
After parking in the Richardson Nature Center parking lot, I hit the trails not really understanding where I was going. My goal was to run 11 miles at a moderate pace. I wasn’t really trying to push myself too hard, just get the mileage in. Although it was overcast, Hyland is a beautiful park and it had no shortage of locals barbecuing, tossing a frisbee around, biking on the paved paths, or out for a leisurely stroll. I saw only one other person running the trails with me. Not sure if that’s telling or not.
Generally, it was a lot of fun to run the trails as opposed to the paved paths and crushed limestone paths I’m used to. I love the sense of being more out in the wild and running on natural surfaces (yes, I know I’m still in a suburban park, but it feels different). The trail surfaces ranged from running on grassy areas, wood chips, hard packed earth, and soft soil.
My one complaint is that although the trails are marked and there is occasionally a map on the trail, they’re still not marked that well and it got confusing where to actually run. As a result, I ran 12.5 miles instead of my goal of 11. One time, I saw a narrower trail off the main path and I thought, “Alright! Even more off the beaten path, I’m there!”. Nope. Ran into someone’s backyard. Sorry.
If you’re looking for an alternative to constantly tuning on your typical path or streets, I highly recommend changing it up and try out trail running. Hyland Park is a good place to start.