As many of you know, I’ve long wanted to spend more time on the trails, but just didn’t have much access in Florida. Now that we’re here in Colorado, it’s time for me to LEARN and DO! I am going to make plenty of mistakes along the way, but thanks to my new friend Mikhailia from TrailRunProject. I should be able to side step a few of the big ones!
While trail running might seem like an intimidating, but exciting. variation to your morning routine, these quick tips will help you transition from the road to the trails with ease. I wasn’t always a seasoned trail runner, so use my mistakes as a time saver for you!1. Maps Matter
For many, running can be an escape from technology. You lace up your running shoes, and can spend your workout disconnecting from phones and computers.
When making the switch to trail running however, getting lost can be a risk, especially on trails that you’ve never run before. Apps such as trailrunproject.com offer an excellent way to keep track of where you are, where you’re going, and how to get back to the parking lot in a pinch. You can still use your workout as an escape, but bringing your phone along can provide a life saving resource.
2. Overestimate Fuel
When you’re out on the trail, you’re often heading out away from civilization and often you’ll spend more time outside than you planned, making it important to ALWAYS carry some form of nutrition and hydration. You can’t stop at a nearby water fountain or duck in to the 7/11, be like a boy scout and always be prepared.
Carry water, an electrolyte drink and a granola bar, fruit or jerky. (I’m a huge fan of my marathon CamelBak which has big pockets and a good amount of water.)
Dehydration can seriously slow you down, and can make even a short, well traveled route feel like a marathon. Keeping hydrated will keep you from bonking, and keep the run fun! Plus, drinking plenty of H2O will ensure that you’re mentally sharp while on trail.
3. Picky Shoes
Trail shoes and road shoes might seem similar, but it’s important to choose a good pair of trail shoes if you’re planning on trail running on a regular basis. Knobbier tread, more rigid soles, and lighter materials can all keep you from slipping or tripping on trail.
4. Layer Like a Boss
When you’re heading out for a trail run, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll be farther away from shelter than on a simple jog around the neighborhood. It’s good to keep changing weather conditions in mind, and to prepare accordingly by layering your clothing with pieces that can be added or removed (another good reason to carry that hydration pack!).
A rain jacket or wind breaker can come in handy if you’re gaining significant elevation, and Yak Trax might give you a leg up on icy or snow packed trails. Working with the elements and planning ahead will keep you moving forward instead of having to turn around at the trailhead.
5. Be present
While slipping into the zen mental space of a run might feel great, it’s important to stay present trail running. Even the most well-maintained trails can have unexpected obstacles, and you’ll want to keep your attention on them to avoid a trip.
6. Find Me Note
As with many outdoor endeavors, it’s a good idea to let a friend or family member know where you’ll be setting out to run. Sometimes trails can take you to remote places, and in case of an emergency, it’s good to let someone know where you’ll be, and what time you’ll be back.
Better yet as someone new to trails, never go alone!
7. It’s a new Pace
Trail running and road running may seem similar, but comparing your minute per mile time between the two is akin to comparing apples with oranges. The obstacles present on trail, and the variation in the grade make holding a consistent pace difficult, if not impossible.
Instead of using minutes/mile to judge, use your perceived effort to gauge how hard you’re working. If you’re starting in on a routine, head out on the trail for a set amount of time, and try to push yourself to run further in that same amount of time when you next return. You can still challenge yourself without trying to stick with unrealistic minute per mile goals.
Additionally, don’t be discouraged if your trail pace is slower than your road pace. You have to work much harder when trail running!
A photo posted by Sherry, Carsen, Marnie (@crazy_mother_runners) on
8. Wildlife (not your neighbors dog)
When heading out on a trail run, be aware that you might be headed into someone’s home. Most animals are afraid of humans, but extra caution should be taken at the dawn/dusk hours when predators might be out and about. Educate yourself on the best practices if you see a critter, and keep familiar with the types of animals that you might see on trail.
9. Watch the Hours
Especially when you’re heading on an out-and-back trail run, it can be important to keep an eye on the time. While reaching a peak or an end point may be the goal, remember that you’ll have to make your way all the way back to your car.
Especially in places where afternoon thunderstorms come early, it’s easy to assume that you’ll have more time that you really do. Inclement weather and setting sun make a much bigger difference when you’re on a remote trail than when you’re looping around your neighborhood, so keeping track of your time might be prudent.
10. Stop, drop and appreciate
One of the biggest benefits of trail running is getting to explore new areas. Don’t forget to take a breather and enjoy your surroundings every now and again! Nothing is more relaxing or as tranquil as the breeze through the trees, or overlooking the grasses in your area. If you’re lucky, you might even sneak a peek of some local critters.The bottom line? Trail running is a fun way to fall back in love with running, especially if your routine has become too routine. You’ll get outside, discover the natural beauty of your area, and enjoy tackling a new sport.
Are you a trail runner?
Any tips you’d add for others who are starting out?
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