Beginners Trail Running Tips

Stay Safe in the Zone

If you are going to go off road especially into the wilds then a degree of preparation is wise.

To start with ensure you know  the type of terrain you will face. It is sensible to research a trail map and plan a route so you can identify possible hazards and avoid becoming lost. Trails typically have more elevation changes which means more steep climbs. Don’t be afraid to hike the steeper sections. Don;t worry the trees won’t judge you.

Match your  trail running shoe to the terrain you will be trail running on.

If you are running on a very technical single track a shoe with a rock plate, extra cushioning, and aggressive outsole might be valuable. If you are running on less technical terrain like a groomed dirt path, rail trail, or a recreational path with sections of pavement you can use a more versatile running shoe.

Lets talk about the technical components be aware your running gait may change from road to trail. Sticks, stumps, roots and stones are a part of technical trail running. Shortening your stride allows you to better navigate technical terrain with greater efficiency and finesse. Focus on your foot work and not your speed. Look ahead not directly at your feet, and pick your knees up.  What might take you 40 minutes to run on the road could take double on the trail. That said, running three to five miles in the hills feels a lot different than pounding three to five miles of pavement.

Because you might be on the trail longer, and have less access to water sources, many trail runners will carry some sort of hydration system. The most popular is a handheld bottle for shorter runs, and a hydration pack or belt for longer outings. Remember to replenish calories and electrolytes every 45 minutes.

Avoid distracting features like headphones and remember to take in the sights and sounds of the natural world. On the trails buzzing traffic is replaced by flowing streams. Be alert and use all of your senses. It’s more about the experience than it is about negative splits. Relax and enjoy yourself.

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