Ready to get off the road and hit the trails? Trail running can be a tremendous amount of fun – but it has a few differences in terms of safety and technique! Have a read and be ready before you hit the trail!
Plan, Prep & Pack.
- Plan. With a buddy – there are more serious risks when running alone on trails. Running with a buddy can help – and it’s a lot of fun too!
- Prep. Have a route in mind and know where you’re going and make sure you tell someone else where you’re going and when you’ll be back!
- Pack. Always bring a small hydration or waist pack and carry water, fuel (gels/ bars/ raisins/ dates), a small first aid kit, emergency blanket, trail map and cel phone. Also make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you expect to get back.
Know the rules of the trail. Here are the general rules of thumb:
- Yield to other trail users (equestrian, hikers, mountain bikers).
- Uphill runners should yield to downhill runners.
- If you pack it in – pack it OUT!
Focus on the trail. If you want to take a minute and soak in the view. STOP running and do it (walk or take a rest). Taking your eyes off the trail and onto the scenery is the quickest way to trip/ slip and fall! Keep your eyes on the trail. You generally want to look 3-4 feet in front of you to keep your head in alignment and reduce neck strain AND to see what is coming up so you can prepare.
Check your ego at home. Trail running (especially technical trails) is often slower than hitting the pavement. Don’t compare your road times to your trail times. Let it go and enjoy! This also means a distance based route may take longer to complete. Plan accordingly with hydration & food.
Wear the right gear. Most important? Trail shoes! If you’re sticking to manicured trails you’re fine in a road shoe (especially if you’re only doing SOME runs on the trails). But if you’re venturing into more technical territory – a good trail shoe is worth the investment. IT will give you better traction in the mud and protect your foot over roots & rocks. Get it properly fitted at a technical running shop and make sure you leave reasonable room at the toe box to account for slip when you head down hill (you’ll thank me later when you get to keep your toenails!).
- UP Hills – take short quick steps and use your arms. Some hills may need to be walked. My rule of thumb? If my heart rate is elevated simply walking the hill…it’s a walker. As you get stronger you’ll find you’re walking less! There is ZERO shame in walking a few steep hills. Save yourself for the speedy flat & downhill sections!
- DOWN hills – if it’s not too steep lean INTO the hill – let gravity do the dirty work! If it’s a bit steeper you want to maintain a taller posture.
Most important? Have FUN! Enjoy feeling like a kid again as you dodge the puddles (or run straight through them) and get muddy!