Many studies have proven that running has great benefits to a person’s health, though, after a while, road running can become tedious and not pose a challenge. So, to remedy this, you have to try trail running. When running trail, you won’t be running on concrete paths or paved roads; you’ll be running on trails, making it even more challenging and exhilarating. Therefore, trail running is basically off-road running, like running on fire roads, forest trails, and dirt trails. So, if you are new to running on trails, here are 6 beginner tips to help you get started.
1. Assemble Your Gear
As you know, running trail is much different from road running, especially regarding the routes. These routes are usually unpaved, filled with rocks, and uneven. As a result, when going for a trail run, you require some specialized gear such as running shoes, most preferably those approved by the international athletics board; an example is the Hoka runner shoes, a watch, and a navigation tool.
Always ensure that your running shoes are the correct size and all your gear is in the right state. Also, ensure you have a light source since some trails are usually quite dark, especially the forest trails.
2. Pick A Trail and Identify a Route
No matter where you are, there are always multiple trails that you can choose from for your fitness training, but it is crucial that before you settle on a trail, you familiarize yourself with the terrain. Once you are familiar with the trail, pick a route that has a favorable terrain since the purpose of you running is fitness and not punishment. I highly recommend a scenic route, so you don’t get bored along the way. Also, for safety purposes, you should pick a trail that most people prefer.
3. Train For the Terrain
Just like before enrolling in a fitness training program, you must prepare your body both physically and mentally since running on trails is very complex and demanding. To handle the mountainous and rugged trails, you must be agile and strong; hence, agility and strength exercises will come in handy during the run.
Also, you have to hone your trail running technique, and the best technique is usually high knees and quick feet; this will help you avoid tripping on a rock or your toe catching a root. If you decide on a mountainous trail, it’s best to work on your quads because when running downhill, you need to be able to brake and remember you shouldn’t lean too far forward or backward so that you can maintain your balance.
4. Pace Your Expectations
Running on roads is usually much easier due to the lack of obstacles and the straightforwardness of most roads, but with trails, always expect obstacles and rough terrain. So, if perhaps you could run forty miles in under two hours on the road, do not expect that to be the same when running trails.
With running trails, some obstacles may be too steep such that you can run past them; instead, you have to power walk or climb over to conquer them; as a result, it becomes hard to make your set time. Therefore, don’t let failing to meet your expectation demoralize you since even experienced trail runners also went through that phase. The secret to successful running trails is pacing your expectations.
5. Check The Weather
One of the most dangerous things you could ever try with running trails is running when the weather isn’t conducive. When it’s raining and you are running on a paved road, it isn’t as dangerous as running in the forest or on a mountain slope under the same conditions.
So, before you go on a trail run, ensure that the weather is conducive and you have the proper attire, from running shoes to raincoats. Also, running a trail when it’s hot isn’t wise. It is highly recommended that the best time to run a trail is early morning or when the sun is setting.
6. Join A Trail Crew
If it’s your first time running a trail, it’s best if you join a trail crew because, from them, you’ll be able to learn firsthand what to do and what not to do, what are the best trails, the best trail apparel in the market and much more. Also, when you are in a crew, you’ll always have a source of motivation that will encourage you to keep up.
Running a trail is one of the best fitness training programs, but it requires discipline, endurance, and preparations, and the benefits are usually amazing. So, try it now and reap the benefits.