Trail running has a certain appeal to runners and outdoor enthusiasts alike. It takes exercise far from the punishing asphalt tracks and the cement pathways of your community and unleashes you upon nature and all its unrestrained beauty. Trail running is growing in popularity in America as people’s desire for excitement and adventure grows exponentially.
Technologies like GPS have also made it easier to track these runs in terms of time, distance and even elevation, meaning you aren’t running blind as you blaze through tall forests. But trail running also presents different challenges than other forms of running, and many runners can benefit from a little preparation before they follow a dirt trail to its outermost limit. Here are four things you need to consider before you embrace trail running, mud and all.
You need to dress for the conditions
Maybe the weather where you are is nice and sunny — perfect for trail running. But where you’re headed matters. If you’re going to be out for several hours (or into the evenings) you need to prepare for the weather changes that could come over time. Longer trail runs can benefit from an extra layer of clothing that you can wear or not wear as temperatures rise and fall.
This is especially true if you will be gaining elevation or entering new terrain. If you will be abandoning the shaded forest for a trek across craggy mountain terrain, there are the dropping temperatures to worry about as elevation increases as well as sun exposure to consider. Sunscreen, or at least a hat, may be advisable to bring with you to make sure you’re prepared for anything.
You need proper shoes for your trail running
Trails are different beasts than sidewalks. Your running shoes need to be equipped to handle trail running — this means having sturdy treads, thick soles and a rugged exterior. Your trail running shoes need to withstand being wet, being scraped by rocks and slogging through mud or unstable terrain, otherwise your run could get much more difficult and even dangerous.
You need to prepare for the worst
Perhaps you feel confident you can get out and back before the rain storm hits. Even still, you need to bring rain gear with you. There’s no telling what will happen out in the wild — you could get lost on a network of trails or maybe just roll your ankle in a remote location. Plan ahead and always carry more water than you think you’ll need. That’s the serious side to trail running — if things go wrong, you’re on your own. Make sure you’re equipped to handle such scenarios.
You need to let someone know where you’re going
Never embark on a trail without telling someone where you’re going. If you do get injured or lost, your odds are much better if there’s someone in civilization who can point rescue efforts in the right direction.
All this might make trail running sound rather intimidating, but it shouldn’t deter you from giving the sport a try. The biggest accidents occur when proper precautions and safety measures aren’t taken. As long as you remain respectful of the risks and make plans accordingly, you shouldn’t have any reason to fear the great outdoors.