Getting the runaround |

Getting the runaround

Geraldine Haldner

I run to stay sane.

I’m sure anyone who sees me huffing and puffing up a hill somewhere on a bike path or hiking trail will assume the exact opposite, but the appearance is deceptive.

I love to run, even if I don’t look like I’m enjoying it. To nonrunners it’s hard to explain, to runners there is no need to explain.

If you have never run few things about running make sense, but there is always the chance you may want to make the transition someday.

If it’s for weight loss, or health, or both, running is simple, cheap and can be done anywhere as a solitary or social activity. I started running for vain reasons five years ago, but it soon became a defense mechanism to fend off the negative impacts of daily stresses. As long as you can walk and are cleared by your doctor for exercise you can start a running program. Ways to start running are varied and can be custom-tailored to individual needs. Books, Web sites, and local running clubs are helpful resources to start with if you are thinking about running.

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Or you can do it like me and simply transition from walking a mile to trotting a mile to running a mile. I now run 25-30 miles per week but the first mile is still the hardest and it only gets easier as I push on, just like most things in life.

Though I haven’t run a marathon yet, I’ve finished three triathlons, two half marathons and run countless 10K and 5K races. While competing is fun, it isn’t all there is.

Running turned me into an athlete after years of being sedate and completely out of shape. Before I started running, I would have called shopping an aerobic activity. Nowadays I grow impatient and restless if I don’t run for a couple of days. Running has made me appreciate the body I have to live this life.

Local runners will tell you that there are two types of running to be had here. Road running and trail running. Most runners around here do both to keep it interesting, but plenty of runners will specialize in one or the other.

Road running is done on relatively even paved or dirt ground, depending on your preference. Eagle County offers a network of paved recreational paths, starting in East Vail and connecting almost all the way to Edwards and again between Eagle and Gypsum. Dirt roads are plentiful as well. Peruse a map and take a drive ” make it your mission to find “your” running route.

While road running is mechanical and repetitive and rewarding in being rythmical, trail running will keep a runner ” literally ” on his toes, with exposed rocks and roots at every step.

Throw in changing grades and trail running becomes a great way to pack lots of exercise into a short distance. Where road running is like dancing a waltz, running on hiking trails will feel like a rapid cha-cha. It takes balance and quick thinking along with a stiffer pair of running shoes (specially made for trail running) to run safely on trails. But the surroundings make the running experience exciting. Nothing will make you feel as fast as trees and shrubs flying by you as you navigate along a trail. Plus the open mouths of hikers you encounter serve as wonderful entertainment and encouragement.

The Vail Valley ranges in altitude from 8,150 feet in Vail to 6,334 feet at Gypsum, so running here, even for the experienced runner, will feel like the equivalent of swimming upstream. Running gurus recommend to cut back your running routine to half of what you normally do until you have acclimatized. With oxygen delivered at a lower rate, breathing should be a good indicator to the fit runner. If you are huffing, slow your pace, if you are gasping, stop.

Also make sure to wear sunscreen and protective gear (the sun is scorcher here compared to it at sea level) and drink plenty before and after running (high altitude sickness can be aggravated or triggered by dehydration).

Other than that enjoy the saneness of running hills in the mountains.

No run of the (tread-)mill here:

(Some of my favorite running routes)

– Road running ” Vail recreation path. Stretches from East Vail to Dowd Junction over almost 10 miles. Helpful markers and directional signs can be found at each half mile, giving you all the options for one-way or loop routes at mellow rolling hill grades. The path follows the Gore Creek from east to west. Access points can be found at the I-70 East Vail exit (9.5 mile marker) Vail Village (5.5 mile marker) and Dowd Junction at the I-70 exit for Avon/Minturn (0 mile marker)

– Dirt path running – Colorado Road at Burns. Drive north on U.S. Highway 131 at Wolcott and turn left in Burns at Colorado Road. The soft red dirt road is sporadically used by motorized traffic and follows the scenic Colorado River.

– Trail running – East Lake Creek in Edwards. Go west on U.S. Highway 6 half a mile past Edwards and turn left onto Lake Creek Road. Take the first right and follow the dirt road to the second trail head. A relatively even trail in lush aspen grove and evergreen trees.

Running routes, resources and races:

– Vail Recreation District ” famous for the much feared and revered trail running series. Check for local trail races at 479-2280 or visit

– Vail Daily Community Calendar ” check the daily newspaper’s community calendar listings for local charity races or visit for the same information.

n Visit for a variety of trail running routes and directions.

Special Sections Editor Geraldine Haldner has been living in the Vail Valley since 1998. She spends as much time as she can outside of her cubicle either running, hiking or rock climbing.

Vail Colorado

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