Avid path runner and Midhurst resident Robb MacDonald shares recommendations on native spots to run and the way to take action safely
Should you’re like many individuals attempting to remain energetic and match through the COVID-19 pandemic, you will have thought-about taking on — or getting again to — working or jogging.
With gyms and different indoor health amenities closed or restricted in alternatives, maybe working outdoors may assist fill the health exercise hole.
Contemplating the numerous stunning trails in and across the space, we bought in contact with path runner and Midhurst resident Robb MacDonald to get his recommendation.
MacDonald was first launched to path working as an elementary college pupil in Wakefield, Que., proper subsequent door to Gatineau Park, Canada’s expansive wilderness space within the capital area.
As a member of the college’s cross-country working group, he commonly explored the trails bordering the park.
Path working continued to take completely different kinds all through MacDonald’s life, together with the possibility to compete with a Canadian navy reservist group whereas a pupil at Western College in London, Ont. The five-event competitors concerned orienteering and impediment programs amongst different challenges.
“It was most likely one of the best summer time job I ever had,” stated MacDonald. “We educated open air all summer time after which travelled to Athens, Greece, for the competitors.”
With a grasp’s diploma in bodily schooling, MacDonald pursued a profession that centered on well being promotion and the advantages of bodily exercise. His work typically supported shoppers who had been concerned within the promotion of bodily exercise and the affect of the atmosphere on our well being.
As somebody whose curiosity in being energetic open air isn’t solely about private well being, but additionally associated to his occupation, MacDonald is all the time keen to encourage and assist others get pleasure from the advantages of out of doors exercise.
Are you able to describe your trail-running exercise within the native space?
After shifting to Simcoe County about 30 years in the past, I first found trails close to my house in Midhurst, after which, over the previous decade or so, within the Orillia and Horseshoe Valley areas. I’m now fortunate to have Simcoe County’s Copeland Forest as my yard. I really like being within the woods and attempt to get out for a path run 4 or 5 occasions per week, typically with the 2 household canine.
Why do you advocate path working as a approach to hold energetic?
A very powerful cause for me, and in addition for a lot of others, is simply getting outdoors in nature. There may be an rising physique of analysis exhibiting time of nature is essential — for each the bodily and psychological well being advantages. Researchers have in contrast being energetic in an city atmosphere with a forest atmosphere. The outcomes present that stress ranges are decrease when exercise takes place in a pure out of doors atmosphere.
Secondly, it may be simpler on the physique than working on pavement, particularly in Simcoe County. The clay and sandy soil supplies a comfortable floor and is extra forgiving on joints and muscular tissues.
I additionally like the variety of path working. Not solely are there many various path places, however there may be a lot selection — from straight and flat to extremely technical with ups and downs and obstacles like rocks and roots. It means you must pay a little bit extra consideration at occasions.
What’s one of the simplest ways to get began?
I’ve a T-shirt that claims: “How you can be a path runner: Discover a path. Run.” That’s about it!
There are issues you’ll be able to study path working, like cadence, foot placement, physique place for working up and down hills, however a very powerful factor is simply to start out out on a path the place you are feeling comfy, equivalent to a easy and pretty flat path. You can begin out strolling, then add a little bit of working and slowly enhance the working time. Should you’re outdoors in nature, shifting your physique and getting your coronary heart fee safely elevated, you’re going to profit.
The extra technical expertise can come later if — effectively, extra seemingly when — you get hooked.
Do you want any specialised clothes or gear?
The beauty of working is that there isn’t lots of gear that’s wanted. That doesn’t imply you’ll be able to’t spend a small fortune on issues like hydration vests, sport watches, and different high-tech devices, however you don’t should. I do advocate getting a pair of runners which are particularly made for path working as a result of they supply added help and traction, which is de facto essential.
What are one of the best locations to run on trails in and round Orillia?
For these simply beginning out, the rail path (Uhthoff Path in Orillia and past) is nice. There are a few off-shoots close to Orillia which are good, too — the Slessor and Silver Creek tracts, that are a part of the Simcoe County Forest system. Simcoe County has a implausible interactive map that reveals all the county forests, together with my favorite, Copeland, close to Horseshoe Valley in Oro-Medonte. There are a selection of entry factors together with the parking zone on the Horseshoe Resort cross-country ski lodge.
Hardwood Ski and Bike additionally has a well-maintained path system. Runners can buy a particular membership or pay-as-you-go to make use of the paths. Signage on the paths is superb and there’s a number of selection. Plus, there’s the security issue of getting employees onsite.
Nearer to Orillia, there may be additionally the Couchiching Conservancy’s Grant’s Woods path and Scout Valley, each good places to get pleasure from a path run.
What about security?
It actually comes right down to widespread sense and selecting a route that you’re conversant in, together with appropriate climate circumstances. If you’re unfamiliar with the path, I’d advocate working with another person. It’s all the time a good suggestion to deliver alongside your smartphone; it offers you a built-in GPS and telephone for emergencies.
And since most trails are multi-use, it’s essential to be alert and to not put on earbuds or headphones, particularly on technical trails. You might be typically sharing the path and forest with cyclists, hikers and even horses. And through sure occasions of the yr, there are hunters, so you might need to contemplate carrying a bell or whistle and carrying vivid colors. If I’m working with my canine, I make sure that to maintain them on a leash.
Are there organized path runs or races within the native space?
Sure! The great thing about path working is that it permits you to get out by yourself and at your individual tempo. Nonetheless, there’s a entire neighborhood of path runners within the space. Though many occasions have been cancelled this yr, there are sometimes a wide range of runs and races that may add to your social or aggressive nature. Hardwood Hills affords a trail-running collection, together with races for youths. Each the 5 Peaks Ontario Path Races and Ontario Extremely collection provide race occasions all through the province, together with the favored “Choose Your Poison Run” in Horseshoe Valley.
Native out of doors fanatic and health teacher Virginia Gingras affords trail-running teams and instruction within the Horseshoe Valley space. She has additionally produced a superb map of the Copeland Forest space that’s accessible for buy by means of her web site.
“From an off-the-cuff walk-run in your native rail path to a long-distance technical run alongside a forest path, there are many methods, and causes, to get began with path working,” concludes MacDonald.
Along with inspiring others by means of his personal exercise and love of nature, MacDonald continues to encourage folks to be energetic outdoors by means of his involvement as a member of the board of administrators of the Copeland Forest Associates Affiliation. He’s additionally chair of the well being and wellness sector with Sustainable Orillia.