If anybody ever tells you that running is boring, ask them if they have done any trail running. Chances are that they’ve never heard of it.
And if they haven’t then they are in for a treat when they realize just how fun and challenging it is compared to running on the streets.
Fresh air, beautiful scenery and a challenging landscape make trail running as exhilarating a sport as they come. You can’t tune out and run on autopilot when you are trail running as opposed to running in the city.
To make sure that you’re safe while running and that you can enjoy the difficulty of it without it ruining the experience, you need to have some techniques understood and also have the right gear.
If you treat it like running on pavement, then you are likely to find it unenjoyable.
In this article, I will go over some of the essential running gear that you need as well as some techniques to get the most out of trail running.
Trail Running Gear, Tips, And Techniques
Here’s how you can safely start trail running:
1. Get The Right Shoes
The very first thing to get is the right shoes to run on an uneven trail. You can’t use ordinary running shoes to do this as they are not made for the kind of terrain you will be dealing with.
Out on the trail, you are going to encounter a lot of obstacles. For starters, the terrain can vary quite a bit. Even during the course of the trail, it can change many times.
You may start out on gravel and end up on a leaf-covered packed dirt trail. Then there are things like roots and rocks to contend with.
With the wrong footwear, you can put yourself at risk of an injury. So it is worth it to invest in the right shoes if you plan to try this activity out.
Look for shoes that were designed, engineered, and constructed specifically for trail running. They are made to grip the ground to give you stability no matter what kind of terrain you find yourself running on.
And the construction is made of durable material that can keep your feet in place and won’t fall apart quickly.
2. Keep Your Electronics Safe
Even if you like to keep your electronics down to a minimum, you’ll have to make some exceptions when out on the trail.
It’s really important to have your phone with you since you have a chance of getting injured and there may not be other people around for miles.
Use running armbands to keep your phone from getting jostled while you are running for added security. Keeping your phone secure is a big measure to keep you safe on the trail.
I would also add that you should have a GPS that isn’t your phone just to be able to get out of a sticky situation if you don’t have a cell phone signal.
3. Use A Hydration Pack
Many runners simply hold a bottle of water in one hand as they run so they aren’t slowed down by having to stop and drink some water.
This is not the best idea on a trail as you need to keep your balance. You could easily be knocked off balance by a rock or tree root and if you have something in your hand it could cause you to fall.
Instead, have a hydration pack that straps to your back and provides your water through a straw. It is totally hands-free and you never need to stop running to take a drink from it.
4. Don’t Forget The Cold-Weather Gear
If you are using a hydration pack then you have some space in your backpack for some extras. Usually, there isn’t much room for anything bulky so you have to be smart about what you pack.
Since you could get injured or lost and be out in the forest after dark, it pays to have some protection from the cold just in case.
These days, you can have a thermal blanket that folds down to the size of a small wallet and takes very little space in your pack.
5. Remember To Adjust The Distance
If you are planning your route and trying to determine how long it will take, keep in mind that a mile on the trail is much different than a mile on the road. Think in terms of time rather than distance.
Because you may be able to run 10 miles in a fairly consistent time every time when you are running in the city, that same 10 miles on a trail may take twice as long. Or not. It depends on the trail and they are all different.
Don’t worry too much about how far you run. Keep a log of how long it takes to run your preferred distance so you can then make better plans for the next time on that trail.
And do the same for every running trail as the terrain will be different and affect your times.
6. Take Your Time
One of the biggest benefits when it comes to trail running is that you are out in a natural setting with lots of beautiful scenery. It would be a shame to push yourself so hard that you don’t take the time to enjoy it.
But, even beyond stopping to smell the roses, you should slow down for your own sake, as well. Pushing yourself too hard on the trail can result in an injury or strained muscle.
Since the terrain will be changing along with the steepness, you may find yourself having to push through some gnarly areas.
When faced with a challenging terrain it pays to slow down a bit and just get through it rather than trying to maintain time. You may even need to walk part of the trail, especially on a steep incline.
Muddy trails or sand can come up all of a sudden so you’ll need to adjust your speed according to the terrain. And this is part of the fun so the run doesn’t get boring.
As you can see, there are some tips, techniques, and gears you need to stay safe while trail running. And nothing compares with the unique scenery and challenges you face on every trail.