Trail running is one of the sports you should definitely try. It offers a lot of benefits that’s good for your muscles and can help you build sport-specific strength. Trail running can also improve your balance as you may encounter different types of terrain during your run.
An improved balance can make you a better runner, as you no longer have to work hard to keep your balance on the road, which means the lesser the energy expended the more efficient you’ll run.
While trail running, you’ll notice that it uses different muscles on your body compared to road running. This is a good thing since it can help balance out areas of imbalance on your body that can also prevent overuse injuries.
Before you get started though with running, one of the most important things to consider is having the correct running shoes. Some people are wide or narrow footed, others have issues with Morton’s Neuroma (which require special shoes) and other foot issues that need to treated before you start. Ensure you have the correct shoes before you get to running.
Here are 10 trail running tips you should know:
Lift it Higher
- Feet movement is different in trail running. In road running, you shuffle your feet closer to the ground in each step. But if you do this in trail running, it may result to tripping and falling to the ground as you might get caught up on some rocks or roots while running. So in trail running, always lift your foot higher than usual with every step to avoid obstacles that you might run through.
Time Over Distance
- Trail running isn’t as easy as you think. Compared to roads, you’ll find different kinds of terrain and hills during your run. In this case, your body uses more energy as it needs to exert much more effort compared to road running. To keep you motivated throughout the run, shift your run goal from miles to time. ( 50 minutes instead of 5 miles )
Keep an Eye of the Trail
- When trail running, always stay alert and maintain your focus throughout your run. If you don’t, you might trip on rocks or something in your way. Feeling tired? You can stop for a moment and admire the view around you. This can help you stay on focus and maintain your footing on the process.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
- Water fountains are nowhere to be found during trail running. While on the run, you may never notice that you’re running out of energy. To keep you hydrated, always carry around a bottle of water to drink in times of need. Having a running backpack is advisable as it can carry a larger volume of water compared to regular backpacks.
You Will Be Sore
- Trail running can be tiring compared to road running. Even if you follow the time vs distance method as we’ve mentioned earlier, you’re likely to be sore than usual. Trail running uses a lot of muscles in your body which is a good thing but that also means it also uses your muscles that you aren’t used to regularly. After your run, do some stretching, foam rolling and other exercises to recover those sore muscles.
Follow the Rules
- Following trail etiquettes is a must if you’re a trail runner. There are important rules to know about trails and following these rules can help trails available to everyone. Some of the most basic ones are as follows:
- Yield to horses and mountain bikes.
- Yield to uphill runners when going downhill.
- Stay on marked trails. This includes running through puddles and mud in the marked trail.
- Do not litter.
Reach to the Hills
- Hills are everywhere especially in trail running. From steady grades that last for miles or even short steep hills that are found on mountain bike trails. Take it easy when you approach these kind of hills as you would do on the road. Slow your pace, shorten your stride, look up, and push forward. It’s also advisable to walk uphill if ever you’ll encounter a steep hill or hills that are covered in slippery leaves.
Adjust your Pacing
- Trail running requires a lot of work compared to your usual road running. In that case, you might want to adjust your pacing. Listen to your breathing, adjust your pace down to match your effort. This may result to a slower training pace but that’s perfectly fine.
Always Keep Safe
- Trails is not just your ordinary road to run on, they are mostly located on secluded areas that only a few people may know. Always keep safety your top priority during trail running. Tell a friend if you’re going for a run and keep them updated when you’ll come back. Bring your cellphone but also keep in mind that some trails don’t have service connections depending on the location. You can also bring your friend if you go for a run for added safety and support.
- Sign up for a Trail Race
- Now that you’re good to go for trail running. It’s time to join a trail race to test those trail running skills. There are a lot of trail running races on the internet. Try searching for your city and add “trail running race” to find available races near you. Just like road running, you can find different varieties of trail races of all distances.