By: Ashley Smith, Senior Marketing Manager
As a lifelong road-runner, the transition to the trail running seemed relatively straightforward. Less traffic. More vertical. Good to go! Fast forward 3 weeks into my debut to the trails, and a severely sprained ankle proved me otherwise. Biggest lesson learned: the sport of trail running is drastically different from hitting the pavement.
So, what did I do? I recovered from my humbling injury and got trail smart. With a few easy adjustments, I made a much smoother transition to #traillife and enjoyed the very best of what trail running has to offer!
Start from the ground up, literally. A neutral road shoe will not hold up in the woods. Investing in the appropriate footwear will combat the unforgiving terrain of the trails. A trail-specific shoe will provide traction and stability on bumpy paths and improve your overall alignment, helping to prevent any long-term injuries.
Trail running is meant to be enjoyed and sustained at a different pace than what the pavement allows for. With added vertical gain, and much more technical terrain, pure speed is no longer the solitary focus. Even the most competitive racers take time to walk/hike and recover on the trails. It is important to re-calibrate your training and race pace in the woods. Technical obstacles and more frequent elevation change will contribute to different splits than you’re used to tracking. It’s all part of the fun of trail running. Focus on your environment rather than your splits! (Pro-tip: If you’re just starting out on the trails and trying to determine your “trail pace”, match your effort and heart rate to what you’re used to seeing during road runs.)
While trail exploration can be exciting, navigation can sometimes get tricky. Having a reliable GPS device (phones are great) or detailed map is always in your best interest. Don’t assume that a trail system will be well marked. It is far too easy to miss turns along the way and unlike road running, you do not have named road signs to get you back to where you came from. Plan ahead and be prepared to course correct if your route takes an unexpected twist. Bonus points for extra wayfinding miles!
Best running buddies
Without the added concern of speedy traffic and busy intersections, you and your dog can enjoy the great outdoors--uninterrupted. Before you hit the trail with your faithful running companion, do your research on the trail system to understand its dog policy. Not all trail enthusiasts are dog-lovers. Pay your respects to making sure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the trail equally by ensuring that your dog is within control at all times.
Even the flattest trails will work your body harder than flat roads. Over the course of your regular mileage, you’ll burn more calories than you’re used to on the road. Don’t hit the trails under prepared. Make sure that you’ve hydrated and fueled up properly. Having a hydration pack comes in handy for those long-distance days. Reliable water sources aren’t easy to come by in the middle of forest or on a mountain. Stock your pack with your favorite energy bites and an appropriate amount of H2O before you step out the door.
Sometimes this is a lesson you learn the hard way. Right, Kevin?
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