My Favorite Runs

Enjoyable walking, running, and cycling areas in the USA

After retiring from the US Army on 1 September 2016, I took a new job in Tennessee. My schedule prevented me from doing one of my favorite things, running, since 12 September. Today, however, I took a glorious 5-miler in the Wolf River Nature Area outside Germantown, TN. Running there reminded me of some of my favorite places to run, bike, or walk, throughout the United States. These trails are relatively easy, and located close to urban areas. Unlike some of the trails considered “Best in the US” for running, these are short and accessible to casual walkers, runners, bikers, and hikers.

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Moving with Little Trace

How to move in a natural environment while staying quiet and hard to track.

My family loves the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings (LOTR), even though it has many unlikely moments. One of my favorite unlikely moments is in The Two Towers, when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are tracking the orc pack carrying the Hobbits Merry and Pippin to a gruesome fate in Isengard.  Gimli complained, “Three day’s and night’s pursuit… no food, no rest, and no sign of our quarry but what bare rock can tell.”  Aragorn’s tracking is masterful to the point of unbelievable, as he pieces together the orcs’ movement, their midnight battle with the Rohirim, and the escape of Merry and Pippin. Experts can track people with remarkable accuracy, but Aragorn’s feat fits Hollywood better than it does the real world.

As a combat veteran, outdoorsman, and martial artist, I have moved more than once while trying to avoid being seen, heard or tracked. While hiking in the Poconos of Pennsylvania this month, I thought of what I had learned over the years from scout to soldier, and decided to write some of it down. People have been tracked by predatory animals and by other people. Before beginning, let me be clear that it is impossible to be completely silent, invisible, and untrackable. Readers also need to remember that not being seen, not being heard, and not being tracked are three different objectives; doing one can make it harder to do the others. The goal of this article is to help readers make themselves harder to see, to hear, and to track. We will focus on the natural world but say a little about indoors as well.

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Soccer Tips from Coach Mark

How to give your players a fun and developmental soccer season.

I have coached soccer for school aged boys and girls for about three years and served as a sports medicine physician for a wide variety of sports for six years. Whether I am the team coach, the team doctor, or just a fan, I always have five goals for the game, in order of importance:

  1. No one gets hurt.
  2. Kids have fun.
  3. Kids learn leadership, teamwork, and character.
  4. Each child gets to play every position.
  5. Our team wins.

To accomplish those three goals in soccer, I have included some information for players and parents to learn. Practices are twice per week and games once per week. Players should practice at home five or six days per week.

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