Trail Running Tips

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This article originally appeared on Mrs. Glass’ Will Run for Ice Cream blog.

Trail Running Tips For A Beginner

by Amy Glass

If you are like me, the first thing I thought when I heard about trail running was “No way! I can barely walk on even ground. No way I can do trails without falling and busting my rear.” So for a very long time I wouldn’t even consider the thoughts of running (or walking for that matter) on a trail.Then, and I’m not even sure why, but back in 2013 I gave trail running a try. At the time, it was what I needed. (I Faced My Mountain). Then marathon training ramped up last year, and I was too worried about injury that I ditched trails. I think that was a mistake (for me).

So this year, as I find myself coming back from injury, taking a break from road racing, and just needing a change, I’ve had the desire to get back out there on the trail. This year, I took my first hike/run by myself on the Appalachian Trail (I Ran I Walked I Fell I Bled - It Was Awesome).

From that run/hike, trail running has now been a part of my weekly routine, and I couldn’t imagine not running trails. My hamstring (although still sore) has
tolerated the trail much easier than road running. My ankles haven’t been too happy, but I’m trying to work on building ankle strength.

Have I fallen? Why yes I have - more than once. And yep, it hurt. But I’ve turned my ankle over while road running too, almost been bit by dogs, and swerved at by cars. So in their own respects, they each have pros and cons. For me personally, I plan to do both road and trail running. I’m trying to find my balance with my workouts.

But here are a few tips if you are interested in giving trail running a try. Keep in mind. I am NEW to trail running, and these are my own personal thoughtswith the limited experience that I have so far.

  • Always let someone know what trail you are taking. Give an estimated time of how long you will be gone (keeping in mind that trail running is much different than road running and for me it takes a lot longer)
  • If you are on State Game lands or places where people can hunt, make sure to know the laws (wear orange etc).
  • Slow down. I know for me personally if I took to a trail the same way that I run on the road, I would be eating dirt. I know some very speedy trail runners. So don’t get wrong. But again, this is coming from a newby trail runner, and I’m just sharing with you my own personal experience. I tried approaching the Appalachian Trail the same way that I would approach a local road, and I ate dirt (make that rocks and roots). I realized I needed to slow down and shorten my stride.
  • Ditch the watch or be prepared for slower times. If I personally tried to compare road paces to trail paces (at this point), I think I’d be so discouraged that I’d give up. I am at least 3 or 4 minutes per mile slower on the trail. However, I’m getting faster. Not that ‘getting faster’ is my goal at this point, but I’m just saying that I’m seeing progress. But for me it’s like comparing apples to oranges. They are both fruit, but very different.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. This means animals and people. I’ve come across 2 snakes so far (screamed like I was being murdered), heart pounding I continued. But where I run there are bears and lots of other animals - some friendlier than others. So for safety, one should really be aware of their surroundings.
  • No headphones. To me it kindof defeats the purpose (but again my personal opinion). I want to enjoy the scenery and not be distracted by music. But also, I tend to zone out when I listen to music and I want to be 100% aware of where I am and what’s around me.
  • Kinesio tape is helping me with stabilizing my ankles - especially as I work on getting them stronger.
  • Have fun and enjoy the view.
I hope to see you out there on the trail!
To read more from the Will Run for Ice Cream blog, click here.
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