Growing up I ran the urban streets and tracks of St.Louis, Missouri, but eventually running became something I had to do and not something I wanted to do. I stopped running shortly after this. About a year later, I discovered trail running and rediscovered my love for running. When I first started trail running though, I was shocked with just how difficult and exhausting it was. I say this not to discourage but to make you aware that the first time you try this you may get discouraged too. Here are some trail running tips I wish I knew before I hit the trails.
Making sure you are safe is one of the most important things you should do when trail running. A good rule of thumb is never trail run alone. Invite a friend or have your furry friend tag along. I do understand though that running with someone else isn’t always entirely possible. Just be sure to tell someone when and where you are going. You never know what may encounter on the trail and it’s always a good idea to have a safety backup. Be as prepared as possible. I compiled some questions to ask yourself before you leave.● What’s the weather going to be like?
● When does the park close? (what kind of light will I be working with)
● How long is the trail? Do I have the necessary water or snacks?
● Is my phone fully charged?
● How well do I know the area? Should I print out a map to put in my pocket?
● Do I have a buddy or have I let someone know where I will be running?
If you are an experienced runner then you know how important it is to have a solid shoe. Trail running is no different. Some companies make shoes designed for trails, but I found they are too heavy for me. Trail shoes do tend to last longer because they are built to withstand rough terrain. Having light running shoes is very important to me though. There’s no better feeling than running like you don’t have anything on your feet. That being said, I do know that I will replace my shoes a little more frequently.
Spend some time and research local parks and conservation areas around you. Be careful though and make sure the area you have found allows running. I found some parks don’t allow trail running because they fear damaging the terrain. Alltrails is my favorite app to use when I want to find a new trail adventure. It’s important when you are deciding on which trail to take, you consider the elevation gain, especially if you are a beginner. You want to make sure you start with as little elevation gain as possible at first as your build your trail running skills.
4. Set Goals
Set goals for yourself. Goals can be whatever you want them to be. You might seek to run an 8 minute mile or maybe you want to be able to run 6 consecutive miles. It can be whatever YOU want. There are some great apps that can will track and time your runs so you are able to see your progress. MapMyRun is my favorite app to use to track my progress. The best part is that it’s free!
5. Enjoy your surroundings
Yes, it’s important to set goals for yourself but equally important is enjoying the moment. What’s the point of trail running if you can’t enjoy the views. Running should be a time where you can totally relax and not be in a rush. Mental breaks are essential as we all live busy lives. Some of my favorite memories are those quick breaks where I can simply take in my surroundings.
6. Take it Slow
This goes along with enjoying your surroundings but also when you first start trail running, it’s difficult. The most common mistake I see with new runners, is they go too fast and lose their breath. Take it slow and condition yourself for more level breathing throughout the run. It makes the run a more enjoyable experience.
7. Conservation Comes First
Being a leave no trace advocate, I want to be sure I pass on these simple tips so that the land we love and use will be well maintained for future generations. Here are a couple of things to be aware of while you are trail running.
● Stay on the trail and avoid unplanned shoot off trails
● Be considerate of the people around you
● Respect and protect wildlife
● What goes on the trail with you comes off the trail with you
8. Take Epic Feet pictures
While safety is very important, This may be even more important than safety or at least way more fun. Take epic feet pictures. Post your epic shoes, the beautiful terrains you are exploring
and the healthy lifestyle you are leading. Who knows, you might even find a running buddy this way.
Now what are you waiting for? Start preparing… and get outside. I hope trail running will help you discover, or rediscover, a love for running within you as it has for me.
By Trevor Currie, ENO College Brand Ambassador
Trevor Currie is an international award winning photographer and Missouri native with passion for travel. His dream is to travel the world and share his journey. Follow him @Trevor__Currie or check out his website to be part of the adventure!