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running shoe prints
Matt Carpenter reaching the Summit of Pikes Peak

For trailrunning newbies, there is no better source of information and inspiration than Matt Carpenter, Manitou Springs city council member and holder of many trailrunning records. At 46, Matt still sets high-altitude ultramarathon records. A recent profile of Matt in the New York Times mentions his running philosophy: "Go out hard; when it hurts, speed up." Matt's web page includes everything from training schedules designed for beginning runners to details about his Quinton Q65 treadmill. And if you think you'd like to train with Matt, check out the Incline Club's training runs on Sundays and Thursdays

Spring/Summer Runs

The weather can change dramatically in the spring, especially at high altitude. The sun may be shining when you hit the trail, but you still need to have a plan to stay dry if the sun turns to rain, or, worse yet, hail. In addition to a shell that will keep you warm, carry a plastic poncho. Most sporting goods stores sell disposable ponchos in plastic packs that are lightweight and have a hood that will keep your head dry. In a pinch, a trashbag may be all that's needed.

Beware the single-digit humidity the summer months bring. On a long trail run, you will need a plan to stay hydrated. Only experience on the trail can show you how much water you will need.; You can carry water a couple ways: hydration packs (Camelbak is a great brand) or bottle packs. If your trail crosses streams, you can use a filter or iodine tablets, but only drink unfiltered water as a last resort--virtually all Colorado streams have a parasite called giardia. Plan your water needs and avoid a trip to the emergency room.

Fall/Winter Runs

You'll need to stay warm.  Wear several layers, and avoid cotton, which holds moisture and gets very cold. Your winter gear should include tights, gloves, and hats or headbands to keep your ears close to your head. Running stores also carry men's underwear that have a wind-proof panel where the fly typically is. Trust us, you want to avoid frostbite.

Icy trails also bring the problem of traction. The do-it-yourself solution is the screw shoe. Or you may prefer something like YakTrax. Each has it's pros and cons--sheet metals screws work great but can't be removed on the trail if conditions change. YakTrax can be removed quickly, but tend to bow your foot due to their elasticity.

running shoe prints