Are you looking for a new hobby, and have set your sights on trail running? Good for you! However, bear in mind that trail running is a lot different from the type of running you do around the park or in your neighborhood or your treadmill at home. It is time to learn a bit of the basics of trail running.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE TRAIL RUNNING
So you’ve heard about the road less traveled; what about the path less ran on? If you are a running enthusiast who seeks adventure beyond the confines of a gym or the concrete jungle, then trail running is for you. Many look at trail running as a more adventurous and yes, more scenic, way of running to become fit. It’s also a cheaper and, often, dirtier, way of getting your workout through running.
A change in technique. When running on the road or a paved surface, you are probably used to using long strides; after all, you don’t have to worry about keeping your balance. Trail running puts a lot of emphasis on balance, considering how you are running on uneven terrain most of the time. Therefore, you should adjust your stride and make them shorter. Longer strides will only compromise your balance. Instead of heel striking, you’d find yourself running on the balls of your feet.
Be on your guard. When trail running, you are dealing with unpredictable terrain. Even if you’ve been running on the same trail on a regular basis, there are still changes on the surfaces, even if they are minute. Keep your eyes on the trail and scan further ahead for obstacles so you can react accordingly.
Maintain your posture but be flexible. You will be dealing with steep terrains – uphill, downhill, winding routes. Maintain your posture and striking cadence in order to keep your breathing even. Leaning too far back or too forward could lead to accidents, so if you have to make the necessary adjustments, be careful about them.
WHAT YOU NEED TO ENGAGE IN TRAIL RUNNING
Once you’ve decided to get serious about trail running, it’s time to get your gear together. The running gear you usually use when running at the gym? You might want to consider NOT using them when hitting the trail.
- Choose your trail running shoes: You need a trail-specific pair of running shoes. Out on the trail, your feet need more protection and support. You are going to require more cushioning on your feet, especially if you are an aggressive runner. Of course, you can also opt for minimalist running shoes specifically designed for trail running.
- Running wear: In trail running, you are running outdoors, out in nature. You’ll be dealing with temperature drops, humidity, moisture, and the like. Therefore, choose running wear made from moisture-wicking but breathable material. The usual time you go out running will also affect your choice of running wear. Choose clothing with reflective trim if you’re into running the trails at night. Similarly, running at night also calls for a lightweight headlamp.
- Hydration packs: Depending on the duration of the trail runs you usually go on, you need water-carrying options. Choose from among hydration packs or hydration vests or, if you are going for shorter runs, handheld water bottles or waistpacks with water bottles will do, as long as they do not hinder your economy of movement.
- First aid kit: Pick a small and light first aid kit that has the basics. You never know what you’ll encounter when you’re trail running.
RUN THE TRAILS WITH CARE AND CAUTION
The most important thing you should remember when trail running is to prioritize safety above anything else. From your choice of running gear to choosing the route to take when trail running, you should always consider the safety aspect. Have fun trail running!