The runner’s guide to Colorado State

By Max Griffis
Horsetooth Reservoir trails

Are you looking to bring your passion for running to CSU?

If the answer is yes, I assure you that you’ll fit in well here. Our running community is strong and tight-knit, full of athletes of all skill levels and interests.  Whether you plan on spending your time as a casual or competitive runner in Fort Collins, this article will prepare you well.

The location

Running guide-location

Fort Collins is optimal for runners of all skill levels thanks to its mild weather, ample sunshine, varied terrains and beautiful landscapes. If you are lucky, you may even run into some wildlife!

Elevation

At an elevation of about 5,000 feet, runners who hail from locations near sea level will be in for a surprise, but I assure you, the gasps for air are only temporary. Take your first few runs at a leisurely and comfortable pace and you will ease into the altitude like a local, or like CAM the Ram.

If you have heard any horror stories about altitude sickness and think it awaits you in Fort Collins, don’t worry. Fort Collins is well below the elevation of 7,500 feet that altitude sickness typically occurs at.

The terrain

Fort Collins offers many different terrain options such as lush natural areas, large trail systems, and neighborhoods around campus, each with their own unique feel.

My favorite natural area to run through is the Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area. Along the Poudre River you will find shady, well-kept trails that you may even share with a horse! If you’re a serious trail runner and searching for miles upon miles of interweaving and dynamic trails, I recommend the Blue Sky Trail and the Horsetooth Rock Trail at Horsetooth Reservoir.

For a different scene than a natural area, a run through the sleepy, historic neighborhoods that surround CSU is an optimal addition to a peaceful and productive day.

The community

Running guide-community

Campus groups

At CSU, we have running clubs catering to runners from beginner to expert level. Time commitments range from minimal to intensive.

If you are looking to pick up and pursue a passion for running, I would recommend that you join the CSU Striders. It is a running club with both novice and elite runners  who run together at consistent times of the day, six days a week.

If you are looking for inspiration, you’ll get that through this club as well. Some of its members have qualified for both the Boston and New York City Marathons!

The President of the CSU Striders, Seth Woodring, who is a New York City Marathon qualifier, said, “In being a runner at CSU I have a found a community that (not only) fulfills me socially, but one that also allows me to be competitive and reach goals that I never thought were possible. Fort Collins is an incredible place to be a runner…I rarely ever find myself becoming bored in a city with so much versatility.”

The CSU Triathlon Team also is a fantastic place to run alongside driven and fun people. Be prepared to commit to a more consistent and demanding environment than with the CSU Striders if you opt to join this team.

Local races

Whether or not you decide to join a running club, you can set your own goals, smash them and sustain your competitive fire by running in local races.

A few to choose from include the Colorado Marathon — voted the best marathon in the Rockies — the Horsetooth Half Marathon (did someone say hills?), and the FORTitude 10k, which begins and ends on the CSU campus.

Your gear

Running guide-gear

As a runner, your gear and training habits make the biggest difference in whether you stay healthy, have fun, and ultimately accomplish your goals in a timely manner.

Shoes

As the miles pile up week after week, shoes will make a big impact in your running experience. Good shoes will save your body from extended fatigue that could lead to injury.

Personally, I prefer to run with shoes that have neutral support. My favorite is the Adidas Ultra Boost ST due to its high level of support, comfort, and durability. I have put 900+ miles on three pairs in two years. Typically, you can expect a high-level shoe to last for 400-500 miles.

Tracker

You will also benefit from a watch or app that tracks your miles via GPS. It will help you stay on top of — and maybe even show off — your goals!

I wear a Garmin Fenix and use it on every run as well as in my daily life due to its durability and functionality. If you do not want to spend a lot of money on an over-the-top watch, you can download the Nike+ Run Club app or the Map My Run by Under Armour app, which both provide GPS tracking capability.

Your routine

Running guide-routine

Proper training habits are important to avoid persistent injury. If followed properly, they can save you from a large amount of unnecessary struggles.

Stretching

Some runners find that they run faster when their muscles are tighter, but as a rule of thumb, stretch before a workout. Make sure to stretch your quads, calves, hamstrings, and especially you hip flexors to stay relatively pain-free. These areas can cause you major discomfort and give rise to annoying injury downtime if not taken care of.

Diet

Also make sure to treat your body like a machine by eating the right foods (yes, that means vegetables), and getting enough sleep.

Injuries can occur due to lack of foresight or the refusal to properly take care of one’s body. Sometimes that is due to a sub par diet or refusing to slow down on days that demand a slower workout. You will find very quickly that you are not invincible as you begin to run farther and farther. Think about the tortoise and the hare: slow, smart, and steady will eventually lead you to excel as a runner.

Max Griffis
Author: Max Griffis

Max Griffis is a junior at CSU majoring in Forestry with a minor in Environmental Affairs and is also a part of the University Honors Program. He spends his days running the streets of Fort Collins with a smile on his face, telling above average jokes, and playing air guitar to Def Leppard songs.

His on-campus involvements include serving on the student leadership within the CSU Navigators Christian Ministry, serving as the national representative for the Society of American Foresters in the Rocky Mountains, and is in the process of excitedly conquering a brain disorder that he has called Narcolepsy.