Written by: Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor
Getting bored with the same old running routine? Switch it up and take on some trails! We’ve provided some tips for your next adventure:
1) Know where you’re going (and make sure someone else knows too). It’s important to look up your trail route ahead of time to educate yourself on the terrain and its challenges. To avoid getting lost, take a trail map with you and your cell phone. Whether you’re running alone or with a group, tell someone exactly where you’re going and how long you plan to be gone. We also recommend carrying an ID, some form of nutrition, fluids and pepper spray. Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings at all times!
2) Run in the right shoe. If the trail is relatively flat and well-maintained, you can probably wear your regular running shoes. If you expect the terrain to be rocky, muddy or wet, plan to wear trail shoes—these tend to have a lower profile, reducing the likelihood that you will roll your ankle. Additionally, the “teeth” on the soles of shoes like Saucony’s trail running shoes will prevent you from slipping on uneven or wet surfaces.
3) Pace yourself and stay balanced. Your trail-running pace will be slower than your road-running pace. If you don’t run trails regularly or are taking on a new course, caution is your best friend. When you approach challenging areas, slow your pace to a careful jog or walk. Your arms are especially important for maintaining balance, so keep your arms out a bit wider to improve your balance in areas with tree roots, rocks and other obstacles. Trekking poles can also help you keep your footing on steep trails.
4) Be mentally ready for anything. When exploring a new trail, you may come across something unexpected like a downed tree impeding your path, rocky terrain or a sharp incline. Don’t let this throw off your motivation or dampen your mood, but accept it as a fun challenge. Remember, trail running shouldn’t be boring! Just make sure you approach any challenge with caution, as mentioned in tip #3. Know your own skill level and abilities.
5) Don’t over do it. Your body uses different muscles when trail running. So if you’re primarily a road runner looking to take on some trails, it’s important to start off with shorter, slower runs. Your body may not feel as taxed since trails tend to be on softer ground (as opposed to pounding the pavement on a sidewalk or road), but you are still engaging new muscles and may notice some soreness over the following days. Make sure you give yourself plenty of recovery time between trail runs as you build up your strength.
6) Take it all in! Enjoy the beauty of the trail and your surroundings. There are so many wonderful moments to experience on a trail—the serene sound of a stream trickling nearby, a bunny scurrying into hiding or the hollow sounds of a woodpecker tapping a tree. Even a familiar trail can bring something new your way, so keep your ears and eyes open.