Are you bored with the same old running grounds?
Are you trying to find a new challenge to up your running portfolio?
Maybe it’s time to take to the wild.
Trail running as a sport has seen immense popularity in the past few years. And there’s a good reason for it. Not only is it a great physical activity, but it also appeals to the primal nature of human beings. Running in the wild taps into the genetic engineering of our forefathers and nurtures our souls.
In addition to that, it allows us to spend more time in nature and explore our surroundings.
However, for someone who’s never participated in the sport before, it could be a little challenging to figure out what trail running is.
If you are confused about how to start trail running, here is a guide that’ll help you get going.
How to Start Trail Running?
The primary purpose of trail running is to run on an unpaved path. While seasoned trail runners and purists may have more strict definitions of what exactly constitutes trail running, it is better to keep things simple as a beginner.
You don’t need to head out to the jungle to find a trail, as your local park may have a few places that are yet to be explored. Basically, you can run in any area that is not conventionally used for running. You don’t have to stick to a track or follow a map. And as a result, you are free to explore a lot more of the world.
However, taking a few safety precautions definitely helps. So if you’re planning on embarking on a journey with trail running, the following tips may help.
Prepare in Advance
Yes, the purpose of trail running is to explore. Therefore, planning in advance may seem like counterproductive advice. However, it is better to be aware of the surroundings you’ll be running in. You don’t want to find yourself lost in a jungle full of wild and dangerous animals, do you? So research about the places that are safe to explore in advance. In addition to that, check the weather forecast for the day and prepare accordingly.
While running in the wild, you won’t have any stop stations where you can stop and fuel up. Therefore, you need to carry everything you may need on the run with you. Aside from essentials such as protein bars and water, keeping an emergency kit with you is necessary. Even if you don’t end up needing it, just having an emergency kit will make you feel safer.
Practice Your Technique
Starting trail running is fairly easy, but it does require more skill than you may realize. If this is the first time you’re trail running, a relatively straightforward countryside path may be an excellent place to start. It is easier to build up your strength and technique on simpler terrains, which will help you stay free of injury for longer. Once you get used to simpler trails, you can head into the mountains or more remote trails.
Trail running comes with its own difficulties. Even a seasoned trail runner can take a few tumbles from misjudging the viscosity of the mud. In fact, even some good old-fashioned trail furniture can wipe you out in seconds. So don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Instead, start off easy, so you don’t end up hurting yourself.
Follow Your Natural Stride
There are two natural strides that are used for running – a shorter one and a longer one. And almost everyone is inclined to use one of the two. There are no particular reasons why one may be running with a shorted stride instead of a longer one – or vice versa. It is also important to note that no natural stride is better or worse than the other. Therefore, there is no reason to try and change your stride. In fact, it will only hinder your progress while trail running. Instead, it is better to practice with your natural stride and strengthen it over time.
Feel The Run
Running off the trail can be more demanding than your regular runs – especially if your trail consists of roots, rocks, and other obstacles that you may need to keep an eye on. Therefore, it is better to run at a slower pace as compared to when you run on a paved path.
Instead of trying to exert yourself, trail running is an excellent opportunity to run by your perceived effort level. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you cannot speak a complete clear sentence while running, you are working at a high tempo effort. This is an indication that you need to slow down to feel the run. Your runs should be done in an easy state and allow you to easily converse with your friends or fellow runners.
Leave Your Expectations At Home
When you start running on a path or a ground, you usually have some expectations from yourself. I need to run 5 miles. Or I need to run for at least 30 minutes. However, while trail running, leave these standard expectations at home. Since the aim is to explore nature, setting goals may be a hindrance to your performance.
It is also important to keep in mind that some trails are un-runnable, especially during bad weather. If you happen to stumble upon such trails, forcing yourself through it for the sake of it may cause deadly side effects. Instead, take a different path. Instead of being guided by your expectations, let the path be your guide. Set your goals and objectives based on what is in front of you, and leave your path and pacing objectives at home.
Even though it may take a little time to get used to trail running, once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to stop. In addition to that, there are so many rewards to trail running that make all the effort worth it.