Updated: Aug 12, 2020
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Today I would like to venture into one of my favorite topics. Trail Running. Yes, you could say I have a slight affinity for the trails and not just for running, but hiking as well. However, today we will stick with the topic of trail running and my 6 Tips for those who have some running experience, but want to venture out from pavement and concrete, to pound some dirt.
First, let me tell you how I fell in love with trail running. Unlike most people, I got into running not on a treadmill nor on a road, but actually on desert trails. It began as a form of stress management and soon turned into a love. I eventually started signing up for some 5Ks, mostly road but a few on trails. Soon after moving to Washington, I started running half marathons then a full, mostly on roads except for the full. However, the trail keeps calling me back, there is just something about trails that is good for my soul…and just plain fun! There’s nothing like jumping over logs in the forest or running thru the Sonoran Desert after a rain storm.
Now let’s get on to my 6 tips!
1. Adjust your pace
Don’t expect to go as fast as you would on a treadmill or flat surface, your pace will slow down as you focus on the technicality of the trail. Now don’t let the slower pace fool you, you will be working muscles you normally don’t on flat surfaces and the increase change in elevation will definitely work your cardiovascular system. In addition, it’s common practice to walk uphill, even the elite will do this during their ultra-races. So focus on running the flat and downhills and save your energy when going up.
2. Pick up your toes or face plant it!
Trust me on this one! Just trust me. Unlike paved roads or the treadmill, dirt trails have fun little obstacles like little rocks or roots which stick up just enough to trip you if you are not paying attention.
3. Know the trail rules
Observe trail rules like staying to the right and passing on the left. When it comes to who has the right away when meeting on the trail, it goes as such: Bikers yield to hikers, runners and horses. Hikers and runners yield to horses. And Downhill traffic yields to uphill traffic. Now, it’s not uncommon for me to step to the side when I see a bike coming especially if they’re coming fast as it’s easier for me to step to the side than it is for them to stop. Its just basic courtesy and you find out, there is a lot of that out on the trails especially with the true trail lovers. One last rule, leave no trace! Pack out what you pack in.
4. Be prepared
The further out from civilization and/or longer the trail, the more prepared you need to be. Make sure you have adequate gear like a pack to your hold water, calorie source especially if you are going to be out longer than an hour. and depending on the weather, an extra layer of clothes like a long sleeve shirt or light weight jacket. In addition, take a map or study one before you go. Most cities and towns will have maps of the trails on their website. Even if the park is small, still take a look and have a general idea of the layout as it’s not uncommon to take a wrong turn out there. Some areas will have maps on the trails, but don’t rely too heavily on those as I have found some to be inadequate in allowing you to figure out where you’re at.
5. Error to the side of safety
If you are listening to music, make sure you keep it low or wear only one ear bud so you may hear upcoming bikes, other runners, hikers and even horseback riders. If you’re going to run out away from heavy used parks and the population, I’d recommend going with someone else and letting another person know where you guys will be. Though trail running is fun, you need to play on the safe side. And don’t forget to take a map with you.
6. Finally, and most importantly, just have fun!
Enjoy what you are doing and take in nature, not only is it great exercise but being outside does wonders for your mental health. It has been proven that both exercising and being in the outdoors helps one manage depression, anxiety and even PTSD.
I hope you found this information to be useful and if so, please leave me a positive review on iTunes or where ever you are listening to this podcast.
Stay tuned for more episodes on helping you create a healthier, happier, stronger life for yourself and make sure you are doing at least one thing today that will get you one step closer to one of your goals. Have a great week!