Cook County Blog

Finding that perfect training ground

Posted by Molly O'Neill on 5/10/18 4:42 PM

Cook County Minnesota is the ultimate training ground for any outdoor fitness enthusiast at all levelsThe varied terrain, limited traffic, and spectacular scenery make working out a reward not only for the body but also the mind. 

There are at least a bazillion, with a B, great resources on the internet for planning the perfect training schedule. However, after viewing several great blogs and websites on cycling and running, I was quickly completely overwhelmed with too much information. Ultimately,  I found clarity in going back to basics.

  • Keep it simple.
    • Get outside and train because you want to. Because it feels good. Because it’s rewarding and Cook County is an awesome place to do it. Bound across ledge rock and through river canyons next to waterfalls like a superhero in a magical fantasy land. Feel the sun on your face and newly warming air in your lungs, spring has sprung and so should we! Or get an early start through the quiet mist spinning along gravel roads next to marshes that may just host an occasional moose or migrating heron this time of year.
  • Be smart.
    • Be prepared for your adventure. Whether that means an outer layer for chilly downhill descents or an incidental rain shower or packing enough water and nutritional fuel, mechanical supplies and a range of weather gear for a many-hour endurance ride is up to you. Just make sure that if you run into any unforeseen adventure, you’ll have what you want to get through it in a way you’re comfortable with.
    • Don’t go it alone. It’s more fun to train with friends, and smarter too. If you prefer to venture solo, it’s a good idea to let someone know your planned route and expected return time.
    • Use our trail maps to choose a route, or stop in to our Visitor Center and let us help you tailor it to the experience you want. Be comfortable knowing your route by heart or on real paper if it takes you out of smartphone service areas, which still make up a large part of the best places to adventure in Cook County. Your smartphone camera may work but it’s likely your navigation will be out of range, so start your fitness tracking app before you leave service if you want digital credit for your workout! It’s a natural way to unplug up here.
  • Have Fun.
    • Change your usual outlook. Do I really need to tell you that the incredible scenery on Cook County routes and trails is better than your smartphone or gym TV? Run or bike to vistas and magical nooks in the woods worth working for!
    • Run away. Seriously, make your escape from the city or your spring chores list with an inspirational training ground. With each footstep pounding the trail or each pedal crank, outrun your everyday woes and don’t bother looking to see if they catch up! 
    • Treat yourself. You’ve earned that local microbrew on a deck overlooking the lake, or a fabulous dinner to relax over at one of our many local dining establishments. Or book a massage to work out your lactic acid at one of our area’s great spas.

Need gear? No problem! Our local outfitters will set you up for success with the latest and greatest rental gear. 

Train for one our our upcoming great events! 


 Upcoming biking events:

Looking for the perfect training ride for the Lutsen99er? Here is a great route for someone looking to ride the 39er (or longer). 

For a training ride that emulates the timing, climbing, and terrain order of the Lutsen 39er at a similar distance, try this Training Ground – Britton Peak route on Strava. You’ll begin with a quick descent, hook onto the Gitchi Gami State Trail for a few miles and cross over the beautiful and rushing Temperance River at Hwy 61. From there, Temperance River Rd takes up on a brutal gravel climb alongside the rugged river which turns into an extended slow climb that grinds nearly to the end of the Sawbill Trail. Here’s your recovery break to coast down the Sawbill back to Britton Peak where you can select your level and distance of technical or flowy single track. Don’t skip the Britton loops if you are readying for one of the 99er distances as this route mimics the climb, grind, and single track finish of the race day courses.


Vanderhook - Photo Credit Erik Lindstrom (Large)

Upcoming running events



Topics: Events, Summer