Trail Connection: Meet Shawna

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Erin Potter Tweet Us @BikeArlington@BikeArlington August 9, 2018

Erin Potter is the former Program Manager for BikeArlington.

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Since discovering the community of runners in the DC area, Shawna’s been hooked on running, Arlington’s trails, and the friends she’s made. Get to know her and learn some tips for passing people running on the trails.

Arlington’s trails are popular and used by many people—families walking and biking, couples strolling,, individuals exercising, and daily commuters running or biking to work. In fact, in a recent Arlington Parks and Recreation survey, 73% of Arlington households considered paved, multi-use trails the most important outdoor park facility.

While trails bring people together in the same place, it can be hard to connect beyond a friendly hello or a wave which is why BikeArlington and WalkArlington have asked people in the community to share their favorite tips, best trail moments, and more about themselves.

Meet Shawna

I’ve been running since I moved to DC in 2007 and have been running the local trails in Arlington since I moved here in 2010. Right now, I lead beginner-friendly fun runs through Potomac River Running and am one of the coaches for their distance running program.

What do you do for fun?

You mean there are things in life outside of running? I also like to hike, do yoga, and cook, and all of those other fun things, but truthfully most of my free time is spent hanging out with running friends, going for runs with friends, coaching, and participating in races.

Running has really brought me a community. When I moved here, I had a good group of friends, but since I joined the training program and became a part of the running community in DC, I feel like I have such a huge community to draw on. One of the best things going on in this area is this thriving community of runners. It’s awesome, and I love being part of it.

What’s your favorite trail in Arlington? And Why?

My favorite is the Mount Vernon trail. I love the fact that on the Mt. Vernon you have the great views of the monuments, the marinas, and then you end up in a wetland. And really, I just love running next to the river. It makes me feel so lucky to live in this city and have that be my daily run.

How do you use the trails?

Running, primarily. I do walk on occasion, and I rent Capital Bikeshare once in a while, but the other 99 percent of the time I am running. I’m the type of person who usually has some kind of race on the horizon or otherwise I’d be lazy, so I’m usually training for something.

Describe your favorite “trail moment,” when something was truly breathtaking, you achieved a personal milestone, had a really great interaction with another trail user, or another sort of positive experience?

So many! I love when you get out there really early and you see all kinds of wildlife that you feel surprised live in the middle of downtown Arlington, like foxes and deer.

It’s always great when you’re running along and you encounter people doing something totally different, like a large group of bike riders from Sweden riding hundreds of miles or the military training groups. It’s a brief moment, but you get to be a part of their extraordinary thing because you’re running on the trail with them.

How do you change the way you run when you encounter someone using the trail in a different manner than yourself?

You definitely have to adjust your actions based on who else is out there—the trail is for all users.  It’s for the parents with their kids on tricycles and in strollers as much as it is for folks using the trail to train for something. As a runner, the rules of thumb are no more than two people across (trail width permitting), single file when passing or being passed, and giving people moving slower a heads up when passing.

What tips would you share with other trail users?

For people running or walking, follow the rules of thumb, and when using headphones, always keep one ear clear to hear what’s happening around you.

For people on bikes, when you’re passing someone running or walking, warn about passing well in advance. There’s a delay for people running between the time we hear a signal and the time it takes to react to it. Personally, I’m a big fan of the bell, because when someone says “on your left,” it’s really easy to hear left and move left as a result.

So the bike user knows I’ve heard them and am aware of their intention, I acknowledge the passing signal by simple wave of the hand.

What would make the trails in Arlington even better?

More water fountains and bathrooms? And trails being cleared in the winter, like the Custis Trail, would be great. Other than that, I think the trails around here are already pretty wonderful!

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Do you or someone you know love using the Arlington trails? We’d love to talk to you! Email us

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