Posted on June 19 2018
I love to run. The sound of my feet hitting the pavement in a rhythm makes me focus on things and helps calm my inner spirit. One of my other favorite things is nature. There’s nothing quite like it to bring you back down to what really matters and center you. For me, trail running is one of the most perfect solo sports out there because it combines the two in unisom. If you are unfamiliar with what trail running is, it’s basically running on hiking trails. It involves some hiking and is more challenging in many aspects because you are hiking and this generally involves going up in altitude (ascents) and going down in altitude (descents). I mostly love it because I get to see what I like to call “Trail Treats”, which are amazing viewpoints and natural wonders like wildlife, wildflowers and waterfalls. If this sounds like something you want to start doing, here are my trail running tips for beginners.
Wear shoes you are most comfortable in- If you are just beginning, don’t feel the need to go out and buy trail running sneakers. They are great, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think they are essential at the very beginning as most people stick with well-groomed trails and even some paved trails to begin with. Street running shoes work just fine for these terrains. If you find that you want to go ‘off road’ a bit, you may consider buying them at that time.
Consider getting a hydration pack- One piece of equipment I strongly suggest is a hydration pack. Often people know them by the main brand name-CamelBak, but there are many different inexpensive off-brands available. I saw one at Walmart the other day under $20. Hydration packs are ideal for trail running because you can carry your water on your back instead of hold a water bottle the whole time. Plus, you can carry more water and you will be insured that you have enough with you.
Bring an extra pair of socks- You never know when you may need them on trails. I sometimes come across streams that are making a trail muddy or that have over-flowed, especially in the spring and my feet get wet. Plus, if your feet get too sweaty, you have another pair to put on.
Map out your route and do your run during daylight hours- Do your research on trails and map out a route before you go. Researching trails not only helps you pick an ideal length, but you can also see what kind of terrain you will encounter as well as ascents and descents. I like to use the AllTrails app for this because it has user reviews and it says when that person left the review so you can usually see fairly current info.
Don’t go alone if possible- Like hiking, I don’t recommend trail running alone if possible. Trail running often means you will possible encounter wildlife, unsteady areas and so forth. This opens you up to injury fairly easily and you should always have someone with you incase you get hurt. Also, if you have someone with you, you can keep an eye on each other’s health and watch for signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Eat something that’s good for energy beforehand- Trail Running takes a lot of energy and because of this, you will want to eat something before you go. Don’t get too full or that can lead to nausea from all the movement (I learned that the hard way, once!) but do make sure you chow before you go. Consider carrying some energy packed snacks like granola or energy bars, dried fruit and trail mix to eat along the way, too.
Slather on sunblock and bug repellant- Many people forget that this running activity requires you to be outdoors in the elements. Make sure to protect yourself from nasty sunburns with sweat-resistant sunblock. Also, consider using a good bug spray to keep mosquitoes, gnats and ticks away.
Bring a mini first aid kit and moleskin- If you have room in your backpack, make sure to bring a mini first aid kit and moleskin for minor injuries and skin irritations. Moleskin is a patch of adhesive material that is excellent if you get blisters. You can also wear some before you go to prevent it.
Do a tick check after- Always do a tick check after you get home, My advice is to shower right away and do a self check as well as have someone else check the parts you can’t see well. Ticks carry many diseases and some of them can even be deadly or lead to serious health conditions so it is worth the time to check even if you used bug spray.