Trail running is a lot of fun, and even if you’re a road runner or a track athlete, hitting off-road routes every now and then can add some variety to your training. If you give trail running a try and think it’s something you’d like to do more of, consider these tips and plan ahead for your time in the woods.
When trail running, you’re so focused on the task at hand that 10 minutes can quickly turn into 40. Make sure you bring a watch or phone with you to monitor your time, because the last thing you want is to realize you’ve gone 45 minutes into the woods and now have to make the same trek back.
Get ready to be humbled
Trail running is a different beast than running on the road or track. Don’t expect to hold your usual training pace when you hit the trails. Really, don’t look at pace at all. If you do, you might be disappointed in the numbers you see. Instead, just run based on effort.
Don’t race right away
Even if you’ve run on the trails a few times, don’t jump right into racing. Give yourself some time to get used to trail running and put yourself through some hard workouts on the trails before signing up for a race. Just like any other kind of event, training and racing are two very different things, and if you enter a race too soon, it could be a very long and painful day.
Bring food or fuel
One of the last things you want to happen on a trail run is to bonk when you’re deep in the woods. Make sure to fuel well before starting your workout, and it doesn’t hurt to bring a little something with you for your run, just in case you need an extra boost to get you through to the end.
It may be shady on the trails, but it can still get really hot out there. When out for a road run, if you’re really struggling, you might have the option to stop at a Tim Hortons for a cup of water. That is not the case on the trails, so plan ahead and bring your own water.
Don’t be afraid to explore a little when you’re on the trails. This is one of the best parts of trail running, because you can almost always find a new route and adventure. Just always remember Tip #2 when exploring and and keep track of your route.