Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running by Lisa Jhung

Trailhead Lisa Jhung Book Review

Lisa Jhung wants you to play outside. She’s discovered a world that lies just beyond the boundaries of everyday life that offers adventure, freedom, and a healthy connection to natural world. And Lisa Jhung knows a thing or two about adventure. She’s a veteran trail runner, adventure racer, and journalist whose been hitting the trails for the last 20 years.

Trailhead is a book for newbies that want to know how to get started, and diehards that want to take their running to the next level. The format is fun and engaging, and the 5″x 7″ book actually looks like a trail guide. There are tons of illustrations and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor that showcases Jhung’s ability to connect with her readers.

Trailhead Book Review Lisa Jhung
Trailhead Book Review Lisa Jhung

If your curious about heading into the wild for a running adventure, stop thinking about it and do it! It’s a lot of fun. If you want to know how to do it safely, comfortably, and without announcing to the world that you’re a total dork, read this book. It may even save your life.

You’ll find out how to handle animal encounters, how to conduct basic first aid on the trail, what gear to wear, how to find trails for your ability, and how to survive in a variety of bad weather. For those of you that want to take things to the next level, you’ll find out how to get stronger and faster. There’s even a section totally devoted to trail racing. Beast mode!

I caught up with Jhung before she begins her epic book tour, or takes off on another awesome outdoor adventure in some remote high altitude place, to ask her a bit about trail running for beginners.

Lisa Jhung
Lisa Jhung

Me: Why do you think trail running has become so popular in recent years?

Lisa Jhung: I think that as technology continues to infiltrate our daily lives, people crave feeling unplugged and away from the hustle and bustle, and running on a trail provides a peaceful natural environment. I also think it’s human nature to try new things that maybe sound challenging at first–like road marathons, triathlons, etc. Trail running, and ultrarunning, in particular, may seem like the next frontier to some. Plus, trail running appeals to people who maybe would never be drawn to road running, for instance, rock climbers and mountain bikers who enjoy being on dirt and in the wild. Trail running offers cardiovascular exercise in a natural environment.

Me: In Trailhead, you mention how to handle adversity on the trail. Have you ever had any close calls, emergencies, or animal encounters?

Lisa Jhung: I used to do a lot of adventure racing where I’d be with three teammates, traveling by foot, mountain bike, kayak etc. for days on end with no sleep. During those races, I’ve been pretty sick at times, but had teammates to help me out. I’ve been stuck out on the trail in all sorts of weather: hail, windstorms, lightning storms, severe heat, sub-freezing temperatures through the night (traveling by headlamp), etc. I was in a five-day race in Switzerland where I got so cold, I was shivering for what seemed like forever and thought I needed to drop out of the race. My teammates helped me get warm (I ate something, and kept moving, and then the sun came out and I was fine).

And I’ve had a lot of animal encounters on runs by myself that have been awesome: I’ve seen lots of bears, coyotes, foxes, a bobcat…I once came across a freshly gnawed-off deer leg and felt like a mountain lion was nearby and watching me, so I turned around. But none of my animal encounters have turned into truly dangerous situations. I love seeing most wildlife while I’m running.

Me: Lots of runners associate trail running with people like Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet, Michele Yates, or Caballo Blanco (Micah True) from Born to Run. How would you describe the typical trail runner?

I think the typical trail runner is someone who enjoys getting some exercise on a natural surface, whether that means they run hard for an hour or two on mountain trails, or jog with friends for 30 minutes on a dirt path. Trail runners, for the most part, are nature-loving people who appreciate that their sport makes them more adaptable, more tough, and connected to the earth. In the end, the typical trail runner has a lot more in common with the people you mention than they may think.

You can get your hands on a copy of Trailhead at Amazon, or preview it for free at VeloPress.


Thoughts?