More and more new trail runners are getting churned out by the spades on a global scale. The breath-taking sights, the ever changing terrain, the alternative spin on conventional running and other traits all add to the overall allure of trail-running.
If you are a beginner trail runner or looking to get into the sport, you should consider the following trail running tips – they will help raise your trail running game!
Warm up properly
Make sure you warm up before your run for a better experience and a safer one – the last thing you need is severe cramping or worse. Unfortunately, it’s very common for people to skip this step, or they stretch unnecessarily before a tough trail run. Save the stretching for after your run.
Get the right shoes
Opt for a quality minimalist trail running shoe that is going to be lightweight, promotes great traction and does not collect debris – in fact, read our feature on the benefits of minimalist shoes for a better idea on why these types of shoes are a good idea. You can also check out the all-new range of men’s inov-8 trail running shoes – they exhibit all the right traits.
Begin with flatter trails
Trail running is a demanding sport that will really work the muscles in your legs as well as your joints, a lot more than road running. Therefore you should choose a flatter trail when you are getting into the sport.
When you are starting off, it is best to begin slow and run for shorter periods, getting your body used to the type of workout you can expect – starting with about fifteen minute stints is good. Gradually pick up the pace and distance with each session.
Case out the trail
If you are unfamiliar with the trail, make sure you familiarise yourself with the route – this is essential for in case of emergency. Also ask people familiar will various trail routes, as some routes or areas might not be safe, and increasingly people are running into dodgy characters looking to take advantage of trail runners.
Raise your feet
There is generally an abundance of natural debris on most trails. To avoid slipping or tripping, raise your feet a little higher than you normally would as you take each stride. If debris in your shoes are becoming a nightmare for you, consider getting yourself debris gaiters, which are a great help.
Find a good trail running buddy
It would be a good idea to find a trail running partner who is more or less on the same level as you. You can grow together as trail runners and you will feed off each other for motivation.
If you are running alone, inform somebody of the route you are going to take. Especially if you are going to be running on a longer route, take a good race pack with you and carry your essentials such as a mini first aid kit, cellphone, a snack for energy, water, utility blade, etc. The inov-8 RACE ELITE 25 is a super-efficient volume pack that is light weight and ideal for carrying your trail running essentials.
Learn to develop a love for trail running
As with any thing, the deeper your affinity or appreciation for it, the better you will perform in the activity. Don’t put any undue stress on yourself. Enjoy the ambiance, the fresh air, and the refreshing scenery.
The trail should be enjoyed by all runners, so be aware of other runners and if you hear or see them approaching, make adequate space for them to pass by easily.
Watch where you are going
While you are running you need to look straight ahead at the trail so that you reduce the risk of tripping or slipping – keep in mind you have more to worry about than just your footing… tree branches, rocky overhangs, etc., can be hazardous. Also keep a distance of a few feet between other runners, especially on a narrow trail.
Take note of weather forecasts
It’s easy to plan a trail run without checking the weather forecast and then being caught in a bad storm while out on a run. Before you hit the trail, get an inkling of what type of weather to anticipate by tuning into the local weather report. If there is a possibility of rain or heavy winds, carry a good racing jacket like the inov-8 Raceshell 220.
While trail running, you should adopt a technique that keeps your elbows a little wider as you run to improve your balance. Due to the unpredictable nature of the trail, you will need a heightened balance.
Sometimes trail run at night
Trail running at night is a fantastic and adventurous experience. Your regular trail route will look different and your senses become heightened at night. It is also a refreshing break from the norm.
Hike the inclines
Trail running uphill can be unforgiving on the body and forces you to expend a lot of energy. Depending on how you are feeling, rather power-hike the hills and conserve energy for the rest of the run.
Which of these tips resonates the most with you? If you are an experienced trail runner, are there any other tips that you would like to share with us?