by John Durfee in Training Tips, image by Saikofish

Road Trip Fitness: Top Running Trails Down I-95

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As a child, my family often went on the infamous road trips which translated to me staring out the window at the endless scenery while waiting till we got “there”. Today, my current job keeps me on what seems to be an endless road trip traveling to local events, promoting our product at tradeshows and meeting with prospective clients.
I actually don’t mind the driving because of the opportunity to see the countryside and avoid the lines and hassles of air travel, however being confined to a car for long periods can be frustrating.

Who hasn’t experienced the joys of trying 15 different positions to avoid a cramp in their back!
Well, I’ve devised a far superior solution! After passing a sign for a trail in SC last year, I was inspired to start incorporating a run into each of my longer drives. Except for the small addition of time, it’s a free solution that makes the drive seem shorter and leaves me more mentally alert for the next round of meetings!

I’ve spent a good amount of time on the I-95 in the past year. I’ve been able to eat a lot of great American cuisine but eating diner food in small towns with their apple pie and fried everything has made it even more important to get out and exercise while on my long journeys. Here’s a list of some great spots I’ve explored on my way up and down the I-95.

Expert Tip: Purchase a small portable GPS, one with a “create a marker”-function. You can mark where your car is and also mark the path you took. That way you can always find your way back if the trail becomes rough or underdeveloped or if you just decide to go off the beaten path.

Virginia: Dutch Gap (Richmond/ Chesterfield Area)

This is a really interesting trail with a great deal of history to it. It was the site of one of the oldest settlements, only a few years younger than Jamestown . Nature has given way and the trail runs through Henricus National Park with a great deal of natural marshland. As you go along the trail, you’ll eventually run into a recreation of an old Colonial Settlement! Even though the area does bring tourists, the bird life remains flitting through the trees. The only populous group I ran into were bird watchers.

Note: Since this is a marshy area, be well stocked and covered in insect repellant. You don’t want a fun jog to turn into a case of West Nile or Lyme disease.

North Carolina: Falls Lake Dam

This is part of the Great Mountains to Sea Trail Project, an endeavor by North Carolina to connect the west to the east in one long trail. This section of the trail is by the Raleigh Durham Area. The area is filled with lots of great woodland and tall grass. The trails are well traveled, and while I didn’t see it personally, I heard the man made lake is quite beautiful as well. Start the your run from the town of Falls and follow the trail a few miles in. I was able to do a 4 mile round trip in about 50 minutes. The entrance is to your left about one mile past Old Weaver Trail.

South Carolina: Fort Jackson

Moderately difficult trail in the vicinity of Fort Jackson Military Grounds. It’s a 20 mile trail with a bit of uneven terrain and some narrowing of the path. During my run, I could hear mortars and small arms fire going off in the distance (military is always training here), which for me brought me back to my training days in the Army. It is important to note that it is very important to stay on the trail! There’s a notice sign at the trailhead letting visitors know of unexploded munitions in the wilderness areas. As long as you keep that in mind you’ll have a pleasant afternoon of hiking, or in my case, running up and over the uneven terrain.

Florida : Durbin Creek Trail

This is a great trail just out of civilization’s reach in the South Jacksonville Area. The full course is about 6 miles if you can manage it. What it lacks in scenic grandeur (like some of the other trails) it makes up for in convenience. The trailhead is literally just a few miles off the I-95.

If you’re ever on a road trip, business trip, or have a little extra time, see if there’s any local trails or hiking paths. You’ll be surprised at how many there are that you’ve driven by without a second thought! Besides being a great way to squeeze in a workout, it is also an excellent way to kill time when the inevitable traffic jam hits!




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