Those of you that regularly read my blog know that I run a lot. For those who don’t know my running history, here is part one and part two of my journey. Last year, I ran 2,013 miles and so far this year, I have completed 2 half marathons, a full marathon, and an ultra marathon. And that doesn’t even count training miles. I don’t say this to brag but to explain why I am ready for something new – a new challenge, a new adventure. I’ve seen a lot about trail running recently and my training partner has tried it and really liked it so I thought I might give it a shot too and see if it will get me out of my running rut. One of the things that I have always loved about running was it’s simplicity. It’s just one foot in front of the other. Even I can manage that! While trail running is still one foot in front of the other, I see it as a different challenge – one with uncertain footing, changing terrain, and an escape from the road. Trail running takes a completely different approach than road running – you don’t see speed or tempo workouts. And a little one on one time in nature will be good for me! I don’t actually have any experience or knowledge of trail running prior to this but how hard could it be, right?!? Just the same, I’ve been doing a little reading about it so that I am at least academically prepared and somewhat know what to expect. So I thought I’d share a little about what I learned about the basics of trail running. The Basics of Trail Running
- Gear – trail shoes are more rugged and durable than road running shoes. There are many different types of trail shoes – anywhere from firm-ride to soft, cushiony ride and minimalist to thick cushioned. Selecting the right shoe may involve some trial and error to find the perfect ride and amount of cushioning. Hydration packs are also essential to trail running. Depending on how far you are running, this could be anything from a handheld water bottle to a backpack hydration pack. Always make sure to have plenty of water. Weather appropriate clothing is also important. Dress for a few degrees cooler than you would expect. You can always take a layer off if you have too much clothing. Electronics – I know the point of getting into nature is to get away from electronics but it’s a good idea to take a phone in case you need it and GPS is handy in case you get lost. I will also be wearing my Garmin to record the run data (although I will not be using it to worry about my pace during the run).
- Technique – take short strides, keeping your feet underneath you. Try to land on the balls of your feet rather than heel strike. Continually scan 10 to 15 feet in front of you to become aware of potential dangers like roots, rocks, or steep drop-offs.
- Training – find a buddy to run with for safety. Remember that you are in a natural environment with the potential of animals and other natural hazards that you don’t face when running on the road. There are many trail running groups or clubs around. Find one that meets your needs and your schedule. Running with an experienced trail running could help reduce the learning curve for you. Be patient and slow down. Because of the difference in terrain, you will not be able to run as fast as on the road. Expect the slow down and don’t be afraid to walk as you begin to gain experience and work different muscles.
Getting off the roads and on to the trails can be a refreshing and relaxing change. Don’t be afraid to give it a shot and see how you enjoy it. I’m ready to get out there and enjoy the run! Have you been trailing running before? What did you enjoy most about it?