Devoted trail runners cringe at the thought of running on pavement. For them, trail running is a way of life. For the rest of us however, the occasional trail run can be a fun way to keep our running routine fresh. Use the tips below to make your first foray into trail runs safe and enjoyable.
Trail running presents a different set of challenges than the road. If you're not used to running trails, be prepared to feel sore the day after your first run. That's because the ups and downs, leaps and balancing associated with trail running work different muscle groups than a typical road run. Trails vary in difficulty from a flat soft cushion of leaves and pine needles to single file rocky straights that weave through mountainous terrain, scorching deserts, or thick forests. Even simple trails tend to be riddled with roots, stumps, sticks, holes, rocks, gaps, streams, and the occasional critter. You may feel stiffness around your ankles and hips, not to mention your quads and glutes, after a trail run. But consider the advantages—trails are much better than pavement runs for providing a total body workout.
When running trails, keep your eyes trained on the ground slightly in front of you. Accept that at some point, you will fall. Indeed, many trail runners don't consider you indoctrinated into the sport until you've taken your first tumble. Think of that blood trickling down your kneecap as an initiation into the brotherhood, a substitution for a secret handshake. You can't let falls deter you. Just as your parents plopped you right back on your bike after your first crash, unless you have a major injury, it's important to get up, dust yourself off, and keep running.
For safety reasons, it's best to run with a partner. If you prefer to run alone, carry a cell phone and make sure you let someone know which trail you'll be running and approximately what time to expect you back. For longer runs, carry water and nourishment with you.
if you decide to focus primarily on trail runs, you'll want to invest in shoes made specifically for the sport.
Your pace will most likely be slower on the trail than the open road, especially during initial runs. However, preoccupied with scouting out obstacles, you might be surprised to find how quickly time passes. Many runners feel trails melt the minutes and miles away much faster than on a standard road run.
If you decide to focus primarily on trail runs, you'll want to invest in shoes made specifically for the sport. Trail shoes are sturdier and more rigid than regular running shoes, with stiff soles that offer grip traction. But for the occasional trail run, your regular running shoes will suffice.
Nature is always a welcome running companion and trials are the best place to experience it. Many routes may only be reached by trailheads which typically start around a lake or summit area, offering you the chance to run with few people, no cars or city noise, and the muted sound of your footsteps falling on a dirt path to keep you company.
According to Wikipedia, there are almost 7 million trail runners in the United States and over 40 million worldwide, with its appeal and popularity continuing to grow. If you're eager to introduce challenge and change into your running routine, grab a friend and head out to a trail near you.