Trail running can be an incredible way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience nature while getting your fitness on. If you’re thinking about trying trail running, but the idea of getting out onto the trail for the first time has you a little nervous, we’ve put together a list of tips to reduce your fears.
Bring a friend.
Trying something new with a friend ALWAYS makes it better. You’re both in it together, so the fear of attempting something for the first time can also feel exciting. Having a friend by your side for your initial trail run is also a great way to be more confident on the uneven terrain, knowing someone is there to look out for you. And if your friend has run trails before, they can help lead you through your first off-road running experience.
Scheduling a trail run with a friend is also a great way to hold each other accountable to get out of your comfort zone! When you’re both committed to running, it’s much harder to back out or make excuses.
Fun fact - for the dog owners out there, your dog also makes a great trail running partner!
When in doubt - go slower!
Trail running is inherently slower than road running due to the undulating terrain of most trails, the unpredictable surfaces (rocks, roots, and dirt oh my!), and the potential for adverse conditions (snow, mud, inclement weather, etc.). Because of those factors, you should mentally prepare to run a more relaxed pace. If you’re someone who usually checks your watch frequently, we recommend you leave the watch at home to get a feel for running comfortably on the new surfaces.
If you come to a tricky section with rocks, roots, etc., take your time! Confidence on technical terrain comes with experience. The more you do it, the faster you’ll be. Most importantly, when in doubt - WALK! With its varying terrain, trail running will often increase your heart rate faster than a traditional road run. Even professional trail runners walk at times; sometimes it’s the most efficient way to proceed!
Get proper trail gear.
Getting a good pair of trail running shoes with appropriate traction will make your life much more comfortable on uneven terrain. Road running shoes are made for smooth, even surfaces, which could cause some serious slippage if you were to take them onto rocks, roots, and mud. Trail shoes are purposely built to give you the best experience on those tricky sections, so head to your local running retailer and find the pair that works best for you!
It’s also important to think about your hydration needs while out on the trail. Unlike a road or path where a water fountain might be nearby, on the trail you often have to bring everything with you. Options to consider include handheld water bottles, backpacks, and waist packs to carry your water and food on the trail.
You’re spending time in nature; enjoying yourself should be the most important goal! Don’t be afraid to slow down to smell the flowers. Trail running will often take you to some of the most beautiful places you’ve ever run, so snap some Instagram-worthy pictures and show the world your adventurous side. Laugh with your friend on the trail and enjoy the miles together in a brand new setting!
At the end of the day, trail running is just running with some more stuff on the ground. While it’s essential to consider a few changes in gear and focus, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you go on your first trail run. We encourage you to get out there, try your first trail run, and then let us know how it went! And don’t forget to tag us in those trail running pics @AfterShokz.