In the hills, forests, and parks around the South Sound, people are experiencing our trails in a new way. Where leisurely walks once occurred, faster paced visitors are connecting with the natural beauty of the area, getting in shape, and changing their lives in the process. This new way is known as trail running, and these fleet-of-feet enthusiasts jog, race, and meander around our region enjoying a way to cover more ground at a faster pace.
While trail running has been around for quite a while, the sport is gaining popularity, especially around the Puget Sound. In the past decade, the trail running community has grown, with leaders emerging who inspire and encourage all to give it a try. One of those local leaders is Korey Konga.
“About seven years ago, I moved to Arizona, which is where I really fell in love with trail running,” explained Korey, owner and coach at Upper Left Distance Training. “When I came home to Olympia, I didn’t know too much about our trails. I connected with The Outdoor Society, and they really taught me about all of the routes I now run in Olympic National Park.”
Wanting to combine his love for running trails and his deep connection to the region, Korey decided to start a business here in Thurston County. The idea was bounced around for a while, finally becoming a reality in August, 2016.
For years, Korey had been running races and building a reputation around the running community of the Pacific Northwest. Winning races and supporting others, he quickly stood out as a great runner and an inspiring coach.
“I had coached some friends and helped people get off the couch or get that personal record, and one day it just clicked,” said Korey. “I mean, being a coach is more than just prescribing a plan; anyone with Google can do that. It’s about motivating and setting an example as a person and a member of our community.”
By bringing trail running to more people, Upper Left Distance Training has been inspiring people and teaching them that an active lifestyle can be enjoyable. Through teaching people about the specific energy systems and workouts used in trail running, Upper Left Distance Training helps runners so they understand the benefits of their actions. For Korey, coaching and training runners is about crafting a better runner not only through a training plan, but by building a relationship and an environment that fosters growth and happiness.
Korey strongly believes that if you are motivated and love the outdoors, you too can become a trail runner. The trail running community embraces everyone, from five-year-olds running a 1km fun run to a 70-year-old completing 100 milers. In the philosophy of Upper Left Distance Training, only a connection to the outdoors is required.
“I think we should teach our children how to connect with nature as well as how to be responsible explorers,” says Korey. “As a society, we’ve grown so connected to our electronics and media and so disconnected from nature; I think it’s important to take a step back and enjoy the natural places this world has to offer. I mean, you won’t remember the time you spent watching television on your treadmill, but you will never forget the first time you summit Mount Ellinor on a clear day.”
You do not have to run a mountain to feel the benefits of trail running. All around the greater Olympia region, hundreds of miles of trails are waiting for your shoes and sweat. You might run the miles of trails at Priest Point Park, rediscover the beauty of Capitol Forest or run loops around Tolmie State Park. Trail running is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, but making sure you are doing it correctly and to the best of your body’s abilities is the reason you should get a coach. You will have someone to inspire and encourage you as well as to make sure you are stretching correctly, running the right distances and getting you the right gear.
As the coach at Upper Left Distance Training, Korey has your best interests at heart. Currently taking clients, Korey makes the training about you and your goals. Whether you are interested in running a 5K and do not know where to start, want to qualify for Boston in the Capital City Marathon, or want to run your first 100 Miler, Upper Left Distance Training will help you get there. For more information, check out Korey’s website at upperleftdt.com or shoot him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. To see his runs, follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @upperleftdt.
“Trail running is about more than doing the next cool thing. It’s something you do because you want a new challenge or a break from the monotony of your corner office, and it lets you disconnect for an hour and feel free,” explains Korey. “The best part of trail running is that we have an amazing community here in the Northwest. Go run a race, and I almost guarantee you’ll make a friend. We don’t run past you if you fall down; we help you up.”