As you talk to runners you will find many different types. Two of them are called Trail Runners or Road Runners. Occasionally, the Road Runner decides that they want to give trail running a try.
And why not, where else can you be right with nature. Enjoy new sights, peaceful surroundings, the chance to see wildlife and most importantly the lack of people and city sounds!
So today, for those who may want to take up trail running, I give you 10 things to know about trail running.
RELAX & DON'T GET LOST
Trail running is a lot of fun, even if it is much harder physically than street running. No matter the distance you pick, you should relax and enjoy it. Take time to look around the area, see the beauty and peacefulness of the surroundings your in.
Motivate yourself by the fact that you are running with nature, and there is new beauty with every turn.
However, with that said, be careful not to get lost. Don't get so distracted that you veer off onto the less beaten path. Or if they instructed you to take the next fork in the path to the left, don't take the right because you are not paying attention.
IGNORE SETTING A SPECIFIC PACE
Generally if you're a street runner, you may concentrate on pace, and keep track of how fast you are going, check your tracker often. Well with trail running, you need to chuck those ideas out, and don't worry about pace at all. Trail running has rough surfaces that you have to move around obstacle like. Sometimes you may even have to slow to a walk to get past a few. If you worry about pace, you could distract yourself too much, or worse ruin the best part of trail running, which is enjoying the run and being with nature.
Can you get faster? Of course, the more you train trail running the faster you will be able to get. Your body will strengthen to be able to take all the impact and twists and pounding without injury.
Depending on the race, you should prepare in advance. If you are not sure what, usually the race website will tell you, or you can ask others who have run it in the past what they would recommend.
Don't sign up for a marathon or Ultra trail run and think that only one pair of shoes is all you will need, don't dismiss if they tell you to plan on having your own race support for fuel and water.
You're also running where the wild things are:) So make sure you show respect, if you are in bear country, yes wear that annoying bell while you run (you'll forget about it eventually.) If you aren't used to wild life, learn in advance what you may or may run into, and what you need to if you do have a run in with one.
While I don't recommend trail running alone. Possibly you are on a trail that is frequented by runners in the mornings and you feel safe running alone. Regardless of how safe you feel, make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If something doesn't feel right, listen to the inner prompting and turn around.
TIP: Many runners can be found carrying a gun on them in the back country trails. However I STRONGLY urge you if you are going to do this, not only to get a concealed weapons permit or the permitting your state allows. But learn how to use it, take it out to a rage every few weeks and get comfortable with it, so you can be safe. Take a gun class and learn how to take it apart and put it back together again, learn safety tips and tricks from experts so in the rare instance you ever have to use it, you know what to do.
If you're not comfortable with a gun, remember there is always Mace/Pepper Spray and Combo's of them!
Trail run races, are not always exact. If you freak out about having to add a few extra miles to your run, especially in a longer distance race, you may hate trail running.
Of course race directors try to do their best, but newer trail races you can plan on adding more. But if you trained well for the race, this shouldn't matter to you, it should excite you! Oh, and when you are finished don't go around complaining that your GPS shows you ran 29 miles instead of 26.2. Very few will care, and they'll just be thinking you need to toughen up! They also may roll their eyes if you tell them you feel deserving of an Ultra finisher medal instead of the marathon medal.
Trail running uses different muscles than street running. It also requires building up strength in your ankles, hips and quads from the impact of the terrain and the shifting your body does as you approach obstacles. You'll be far better equip if you enter a race, not to mention reduce the risk of injury significantly, if you train on trails first. They don't have to be the ones you are running, because all trails can teach the body and train it better in different ways and help you out!
BUY TRAIL SHOES
They don't just make them different for the heck of it. Trail shoes will handle the terrain and last much longer than street running shoes. Can you wear street shoes trail running? Sure, but if it's something you are training for or planning to do more of you should definitely look into getting a good trail running shoe and leave the other pair for the streets.
Yup, trail running you get to bring accessories. Bug repellent, hat, sunglasses (not just for the sun, but to protect your eyes if branches flip on your face.) Fluids, you're not going to want to drink from the creek. Trail running and trail races opposed to street races, are the one time where it isn't a bad idea to bring your own fluids or snacks.
ITS OKAY TO USE YOUR ARMS
You may hit a steep hill, and you'll need those arms to help pull you up. Or maybe you'll need them to pull yourself up an embankment.
You'll also use them to help swing your body around as you clear tree's or rocks. So ya, use those arms, and don't feel that because your running you can't use your arms to help you out when needed.
KNOW THE RULES ON THE TRAIL
If you enjoy bringing man's best friend with you on your runs, check ahead of time to make sure they are pet friendly traile. Not all trails are, and you can get fined heavily if you are caught bringing a dog on a trail where they are banned.
Additionally, not all trails welcome runners. Ya, I am not even kidding on this. Due to the fact that some runners are rude and leave their garbage and don't show respect. So double check that runners are allowed, and most importantly make sure you stay on the trail and don't cross into private property (even if a bathroom break is needed.)
Trail running can be a lot of fun. I've done several trail marathons and trail runs in my life and they are an entirely different experience than a trail race.
I won't go to say one is better than the other, both street running and trail running have their pro's and con's. But if you are looking for a new adventure, a better way to build your strength and become a stronger runner. Not to mention, a way to enjoy a run in beautiful peaceful nature surroundings, then maybe trail running is something you'd like to try one day.
Are you a trail runner? What other things would you add to the list?
Or is trail running on your bucket list to try eventually?