Through every fitness fad and workout trend, running remains one of the best ways to get in your cardio and keep in shape—especially trail running. The only problem is that running on pavement can get boring, especially if you keep the same routes every time.
Conversely, trail running not only gives runners a chance to run through the wilderness but also dials the workout up to 11. There may be running in both names, but trail running requires a different approach to have a rewarding and safe journey each and every time. Here’s how to easily get started.
The most important piece of trail running gear you could ever own is proper trail running shoes. Unlike running shoes for the road, trail running shoes use tread with extra grip and build in more support to keep your ankles healthy on the trail.
While the best trail running shoes can be expensive, know they’re a worthwhile investment. Pair them with lightweight wool socks that wick away moisture and prevent blistering during runs.
Some runners may suffer from tendonitis, which is a horrible experience for runners. But, an appropriate pair of running shoe to help alleviate this issue and provide comfort and stability when running on a trail.
Now that your feet are cared for, figure out your hydration. Roadrunners have the luxury of stopping at a park water fountain or convenient store for a bottle of water, but a running trail might have no other source of water other than the trailhead.
Some runners just carry a bottle of water, which is fine, but a hydration pack, vest or belt will free up your hands and let you run with more water on your person and without you feeling too much of the weight.
Now, your road running clothes might work for the trail, but you’ll find brushes with bushes, trees, rocks, and dirt can wear down lightweight road gear quickly.
A good pair of lightweight and moisture-wicking trail running shorts are similar to their running shorts cousins but are more durable to handle the elements of the trail.
Seasoned road runners are conditioned enough with cardio exercise to jump into trail running, but leaving the asphalt for the dirt requires a whole new set of muscles you didn’t know you needed.
In fact, there are two areas to focus on to improve your trail running experience. Bonus: these are great for your overall fitness.
Mobility: Keeping your body limber helps prevent injury, improves endurance, and makes trail running more enjoyable. A good mobility routine like the Limber 11 will open up the stabilizing muscles in your legs and turn good runs into great ones.
Strength: Proper trail running requires stronger legs than typical road running. You’ll be facing elevation gain and uneven terrain, so you need strong legs to be ready. Simple but effective weight training like back squats and lunges will help develop leg strength so you can conquer every step.
Trail running requires a different technique than its road counterpart — and it’s about more than just putting one foot in front of the other. To be an effective trail runner, you’ll want to:
Shorten your normal running stride on the trail to improve stability.
Resist the temptation to lean forward going uphill and lean backward going down.
Not feel ashamed to walk up and down to the super steep stuff. Even experienced trail runners will vary their speed to avoid injury over extreme terrain.
You’re geared up, you’re training, and you know the technique. Now it’s time to find a trail and get running! You might already know about some local trails in the area, but resources like TrailLink.com can help broaden your search to find new places to run.
The Thrill of Open Trails
Beyond that, there’s nothing left but to keep getting more comfortable trail running. If you love the sport, there are races ranging from a 5K to overnight relays like Ragnar (there are a road and trail version). But whether you’re running for fun or sport, the asphalt may never feel the same after you’ve experienced the thrill of a great trail.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement.
We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
I’ve accepted that I am where I am and that’s a good thing.
2. Appreciation is everything. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I have found that when I appreciate everything I’m in a good space. I need to be more mindful of my tolerance of others.
3. Share with us one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
I’m proud of living my dream of an alternative lifestyle on a smallholding surrounded by animals. My dream is to make enough time to write and paint more.