Escaping into the trails can offer many positive (and different) experiences that we don’t tend to get when we run on the roads: the beautiful natural setting, softer ground, traffic and noise free, cooler temperatures in the summer months and shelter from the rain and wind. Before you hit the trails, here are 10 tips to get you started.
By Mindy Fleming
1) Safety first!
You may find yourself in an isolated area with little or no traffic. Stay safe by running with a buddy, letting people know where you are going, carrying a cell phone and familiarizing yourself with the area to prevent getting lost.
2) Need an excuse to buy new shoes?
Trail specific footwear is designed to give you better traction and flexibility to adapt to uneven surfaces. Trail shoes tend to be pretty flashy, too. The Saucony Peregrine is a great choice!
3) Use protection
Be careful of your footing. Depending on the trail you are running through, you may encounter tall grass, gravel, stone, roots and all kinds of things that might end your run and even your season if you’re not careful. Keep your eyes focused on the trail ahead. It’s also a good idea to wear socks that come above your ankle to prevent any skin irritations from the trail debris.
4) Slow down
Don’t be in a rush. Slow down and enjoy the scenery! Be willing to stop at least once on each trail run when you see something so beautiful that your breath catches.
5) Run by feel
Accept that you’re going to be slower no matter what you do. By their nature, it’s harder terrain to run fast in trails. Softer ground, hills and technical footing will all slow you down. Measure your effort by feel and the amount of time spent out running.
6) Days are shorter
It gets darker faster in the trails due to trees. Plan ahead and be prepared with a headlamp if you plan on running as the sun sets.
7) Work up to the challenge
Trails can vary in difficulty from smooth relatively flat paths to technical mountains. Start with an easy trail and challenge yourself as you gain confidence.
8) Look out!
Clear / light sunglasses will protect your eyes when you are running through an un-maintained trail with low branches. Trust me, a stick in the eye hurts!
9) Hydration and food
Don’t wonder whether creek-water is clean, or unfamiliar berries are safe to eat. Bring something to eat and drink in case your run takes longer than you expect.
Mindy is a Saucony sponsored athlete and began running in 2009. Mindy has competed in literally hundreds of races, including fifteen marathons and an Ironman triathlon. Her running successes have included multiple outright victories and podium results, including victory at the 2014 EndurRUN Ultimate (160km of racing over eight days) and winning the North Face Endurance Challenge 50km race in 2014 during her first ultramarathon trail race.