Enjoy the Run
I vividly remember my first trail run. I started as a way to run with my ultra running husband who always agreed to run the roads with me even though he prefers the trails. At first, it felt strange, awkward and very unnatural. Every step was made with a fear of falling or twisting an ankle. There was a hesitation in my stride. My form felt off and the dodging of obstacles felt like I was risking serious injury with ever step. A little over a year later I started running ultras. A few weeks ago I ran 30 miles on a trail and loved every minute of it.
Most runners will run the same routes and streets every time and will never venture off road, but hopefully that will change with these tips to trail running for beginners.
Shoes- If you’re only planning to hit the trail once a month or once a week your regular running shoes will do just fine. However if you are planning on making trail running a more consistent part of your training then trail-running shoes provide a much more protective sole and greater stability to help you keep your balance while running over and across loose dirt, rocks and tree roots.
Slow Down Your Pace- Don’t expect to run your road pace. This mindset from the beginning will prevent a lot of frustration and temptation to give up. Trails are never perfectly smooth. You’ll wind around trees and lakes, jump over fallen trees, and cross streams all of which will slow down your pace. You will also be making more lateral movements, which use different muscles in your feet and ankles when compared to your comfort zone of road running.
Shorten Your Stride- It will feel awkward at first but trail running will naturally force you to shorten your stride for increased stability and balance. Don’t fight it. The more often you run on trails the more natural the form will feel and it will eventually overtake your resistance.
Vision - Be alert. Keep your eyes focused about ten feet in front of you. Almost instinctually your eyes will scan for obstacles, loose rocks and roots to help you plan your next few strides
Be Safe- This goes without saying but if you’re going to be in the woods where there is less traffic it’s best to not run alone. Avoid running at night until you’re comfortable with maneuvering the uneven terrain.
Expect to Walk- The uneven terrain, fatigue from using different muscles and obstacles on the path, all come with an expectation of walking especially for beginners.
Trail running is just… different. I love road and trail running but given the choice trails will win every time.
Leave your headphones at home, take off the watch, and ditch the phone. Let your body do what it was naturally meant to do, admire the scenery and enjoy the run!
Have you ever run on trails? Do you have any trail running tips to share?
be the best version of YOU