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Your Insider Advice on Austin’s Top Running Trails

Take your next run on one of Austin’s top running trails

Every Saturday morning, Austin runners take off on their run. Distances range from short to ultra.  They run solo, with friends, or with their group or club. Runs are completed in just about every condition imaginable. Trail Roots does the same, except they can be found on Austin’s trails. Erik Stanley created Trail Roots in 2014. The former collegiate standout and professional runner wanted to provide support and training for Austin’s growing trail running community. Throughout the years, Trail Roots has covered just about every Austin trail. So when we wanted to know Austin’s top running trails we went to the experts. Trail Roots lays out Austin’s top running trails and what makes them so good for trail running.

Pro tip – trail running provides the perfect opportunity to log training miles and beat the summer heat!

Austin top running trails as voted on by Trail Roots

1) Barton Creek Greenbelt

Image of runners running one of Austin's top running trails. Credit to Trail Roots.

Credit – Trail Roots

The Greenbelt offers the most miles out of all of our local trails. This is surprising because it’s the most central of all the trails. Runners can access the trail in downtown Austin. What our runners also liked about this trail is its accessibility and diverse terrain. You can run the main trail, which is fairly flat, for 7 miles. You could run the west (or backside) of the Greenbelt trails to get in more climbing and add an additional 20 miles! With more than eight well-known access points and trailheads, you can stage water or focus your running on specific trail portions with no problem. 

2) Lakeway / Canyonlands

This West Austin trail is a favorite for its diverse terrain and the number of trails offered. It offers a terrain similar to many of Trail Roots’ Hill Country trail races. While it’s a decent 30+ minute drive from downtown Austin, it is definitely worth it. Also, this trail has some great scenic overlooks and lots of hill climbing. While new neighborhood construction is, unfortunately, slowing eating away at the current trail system, there are still 15-20 miles of trails (when connecting Lakeway, Canyonlands, and Bee Cave Preserve trails). While not at the trailhead, there are about two restroom stalls roughly a half-mile onto the trail.

3) Forest Ridge Preserve

Forest Ridge Preserve is an Austin favorite because of its central location. It also connects to multiple trail systems like St. Edwards Trail and Bull Creek Trail. This offers runners more than 15 miles of trail. Bull Creek also flows most of the year offering a nice place to dip in, cool off,  and take a break from trail running. With plenty of elevation and climbing on these trails, you will get your heart rate up in no time.

Looking for a trail closer to you? Trail Roots has you covered with this helpful map! The one downside of Austin’s top running trails (and just about all of Austin’s trails) is that there aren’t any maps or many markings on the trail to help you find your way. This is a great reason to run with Trail Roots. They can help you navigate and learn these trails! Their goal is to get you comfortable on the trail so you can hop on any Austin trail and feel comfortable. Learn more about Trail Roots and contact their coaches today.

Love for Running Transcends Stage IV Cancer Diagnosis

Not even Stage IV cancer can extinguish Axel’s love for running

Runners often credit running for helping them through tough times. Having a bad day? Go for a run? Stress at work? Log some miles on the trail? Frustrating situation? Visit the track for speed work. Axel Reissnecker’s story is the exact same. His love for running is unquestioned and the foundation upon which he relied after his cancer diagnosis. Read Axel’s edition of My Running Story and learn why he’s returning to an old tradition after defeating Stage IV kidney cancer.

Axel Reissnecker and his family celebrate after finishing the 2007 Cap10K. His love for running helped him defeat Stage IV cancer.

Axel and his family (left to right – son Sven, wife Karin, daughter Anja, son Felix) after Cap10K. Credit – Alex Reissnecker

Love for running turns into a tradition

Hi, I’m Axel Reissnecker. I’ve always had a love for running, though I didn’t start participating in races until I turned 44. After my first 10K in the fall of 1997, I quickly ramped up and ran my first marathon in Austin in 1998. This became a kind of tradition with 10 consecutive Austin Marathons from 1998 until 2007. Another annual tradition for me is running the Cap 10K in a costume. I even won first place twice in the costume contest! Eventually, after years of running road races, I switched to the “dark side,” aka trail running. I started running even longer distances, up to 100 miles.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Stage IV, which meant the cancer had already spread. I began chemo after the removal of my left kidney and the secondary tumor in my sinuses. However, this did not stop me from running. Less than four weeks after kidney surgery I was back on the trail and speed-hiking a 50-mile race.

The running tradition returns

Seven years later, at age 66, I am much slower than I used to be. This is also partially due to the side effects of the chemo. I also somewhat cut down on long-distance running. Nevertheless, I still like to run. It clears my mind and keeps me relaxed, balanced, and always in a good mood. Running also comes with a lot of health benefits. For example, it helps keep my blood pressure under control without taking meds. Rain or shine, there is nothing like being outdoors and enjoying a good run.

By the way, in 2017 I decided to return to the annual tradition of running the Austin Marathon. So, when you see an old geezer huffing’ and puffin’ towards the finish line on Congress Avenue on February 16, 2020, that might be yours truly!

My Running Story is a series of blog submissions from runners just like yourself. They submitted their inspirational running stories as part of a contest to win an entry of their choice to the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon. Their stories range from crossing their first finish line to drastic lifestyle change due to running. Everyone’s story is different and unique, impacting them in a specific way. While each story is specific to the author, everyone can resonate in some form or fashion because of the power of running. Other My Running Story submissions include Kayleigh Williamson, Kirsten Pasha, Michael Coffey, Samantha Santos, Tom Hamann, Erica Richart, Angela Clark, Rebecca Galvan, and Jeremy Tavares.

How to Stay Motivated after the Austin Marathon/Half Marathon

Keep the good times rolling, stay motivated with these tips

You trained a great deal in preparation for the Austin Marathon or Austin Half Marathon. Most of you trained at least 3-4 months, some of you as many as 12 months! Either way, you’ve established a rhythm and created a solid foundation with which you can build off of in preparation for the 2020 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon! Read below to see how to stay motivated now that you’ve crossed the Congress Ave. finish line.

Reward yourself

Early mornings. Late nights. Months of training. Hundreds of miles. One finish line. You achieved your goals and accomplished dreams! Reward yourself and commemorate your moment when you purchase official, limited-edition Austin Marathon gear from the online Fleet Feet Austin store. Show off in your Run Austin Under Armour gear during your next workout or on your next long run. Be proud of your accomplishments! Hurry, because supplies are limited. Pro tip: when you don’t feel like working out or going for a long run, bust our your Run Austin gear for an energy boost!

Join a running club

If you don’t already run with a club or a group, this section is for you! If you do run with a club or group, check out some other options around town. It never hurts to meet more runners, try new workouts, and log more miles! Various groups and clubs around Austin have differing schedules, so they can accommodate most any runner in any part of Austin.

  • RAW Running meets twice a week on Tuesday evening (7:00 at Deep Eddy Cabaret) and Friday morning (6:30 at Fleet Feet Austin).
  • East Side Beer Runners meet on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Hops and Grain and explore Austin’s trails on Sunday morning. RAW and ESBR don’t charge for membership.
  • Austin Runners Club has runs just about every day of the week in every part of Austin. ARC dues are $30/year, but if you join ARC while registering for the Austin Marathon or 3M Half Marathon it only costs $25!
  • Pro tip: if you’re not in Austin, use this helpful tool from the Road Runners Club of America to find a running club near you.

Branch out

Chances are high that all or a high percentage of your Austin Marathon or Austin Half Marathon training miles were completed on the road. Now’s the time to branch out and explore other locations and endurance sports! There are numerous benefits to running on trails or completing your first triathlon.

  • Trail running will purposefully slow you down. You can really dial in your pace, allowing your body to continue getting stronger. With the ups and downs, twists and turns, you work your muscles differently. This helps with the strengthening, especially with your ankles and feet. Wherever you run on trails, you get to see some of the prettiest locations in your city! Pro tip: pay attention! You can’t just zone out like you sometimes can on the road, you have to pay attention to everything, from roots to rocks. The last thing you want is to end up on the ground!
  • Register for your first triathlon, like Rookie Triathlon. The benefits of cross-training are endless! With a 300m swim, 11.2-mile bike, and 2-mile run, this event is perfect for first-timers. You’ve got the running part down, now focus on the swim and bike portions. Once you adjust your training you’ll really feel your body get stronger. Austin has several pools where you can start your swim training and numerous bike paths where you can lock in your bike training.

Register for short-distance races

Speedwork makes the dream work! Now is the time most runners switch from long-distance training to shorter distances, especially with the impending Texas heat. This allows them to remain in shape while strengthening their muscles differently. Speedwork will help you get faster if you utilize your training properly. Just because you focus on shorter distances doesn’t mean you can ignore recovery, stretching, foam rolling, etc. You still have to take care of your body! 

  • Cap10K – Cap10K is entering its 42nd year and is the largest 10K in Texas. With more than 24,000 registrants expected on April 7th, Cap10K is annually one of the largest 10Ks in the US. Cap10K starts on Congress Ave. Bridge and finishes near Auditorium Shores. The finish line festival is complete with a selfie drone, beer garden, and live music.

Workout with Camp Gladiator

This crew got you loose on Feb. 17th, so you know they know their stuff. They also had 12 cheer stations on course, so you know they can bring the energy! CG is an outdoor fitness program for all fitness levels. They have workouts all over Austin, find one near you. These workouts will make you a better runner because you can trim down, work on your core, and increase your overall strength. Learn how you can take advantage of their best pricing of the season!

Raise money for your favorite charity

Another great way to stay motivated is to fundraise on behalf of your favorite Austin Gives Miles nonprofit leading up to Feb. 16, 2020. Add more meaning to your training miles and make a significant impact on Central Texas. Raise money from family and friends for each mile you run or each run you complete. Either way, you’re using your legs for good! It’s tough to choose from all the amazing Austin Gives Miles charities, but if you ran with us on Feb. 17th, think back to the aid station that gave you the most energy. The one that pumped you up when you needed it the most. Write down that nonprofits name and fundraise on their behalf when you train for the Austin Marathon, half marathon, or 5K.

Start a team for 2020

It’s never too early to begin planning for 2020 3M Half Marathon (Jan. 19th) and Ascension Seton Austin Marathon (Feb. 16th). There are many reasons to create a team. Starting a team is a great way to hold others accountable during training. Plus, running is better with friends! Why pick either event when your team can register to run both events. Grab brunch after long runs, make shirts for race day, or support an Austin Gives Miles charity. Let the recruiting begin!