Trail running is, simply, running off-road. Usually this is in nature parks or somewhere similar, and the terrain varies greatly depending on where the trails are. Trail running tends to be more challenging than running on road or track but of course just HOW much more challenging depends where you’re running.
When it comes to race-day on the trails, goals can be pared down to just two essentials, and that’s much of the reason why I love it.
- Finish the race.
- Avoid injury.
With trail running, you’re expected to go slower because you’re running on dirt, rocks, and tree roots. I’m not a fast runner and trail running feels freeing because slower is good! The scenery is a change from my usual routes, too. And because most of my running here on the coast is in warm (hot!) weather with little shade, trail running is often in wooded areas and therefore delightfully cooler.
If you’d like to give trail running a try, it’s important to consider some additional safety precautions.
Tips for Safe Trail Running:
1- Go slow(er).
If you don’t, you may faceplant in a pile of mud, or slip and hurt yourself. You may need to walk in particularly steep or precarious areas. Even if you are usually Speedy Gonzales in road-running, you’re gonna need to take it down a notch or two and that is 100% okay.
2- Take a buddy.
If you do go alone, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when, and make sure you have a phone to call for help if needed.
3- Know where you’re going.
If the trail is new to you or not clearly marked, make sure you have a map. Be aware of wildlife in the area as well, which will vary depending on where you live or where you’re running.
4- Wear appropriate gear.
You sure as heck don’t need to clean out the sporting goods store, and depending on where you’ll be trail running and how often, you may not need any new gear at all. You may want a slightly more rugged shoe with more traction, and you may want to consider clothing to protect from briars or branches. If you get into doing longer and more challenging trails, you may eventually need to invest in gear for hydration or to carry extra layers — but to get started, you shouldn’t need anything different than you’re using for road running.
Get more inspiration by following some of these trail-running instagrammers.
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