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The biggest risk for trail runners

The biggest risk in trail running may be yourself

Running in the trails and mountains has its risks. Whether it’s heading out unprepared, getting lost, rolling an ankle, running out of water and fuel, puking, falling, or bloody blisters–doing what we love can be risky. But just as avoiding the risks won’t get you very far as a trail runner, neither will the opposite–saying yes to every adventure. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is real, and the biggest risk of all may be yourself.

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Photo: Tory Scholz

Social media tells us that more is better, and according to Instagram, everyone and their uncle is exploring the alpine at all hours of the day. But the best and most experienced trail runners know the benefits of saying no to adventures. They listen to their body, staying in tune for when it needs rest, and when a pending niggle requires attention. They know that more is not better, and are often declining invites into the alpine.

Seeing beautiful places on two feet can be worth all the chafing in the world. But giving into FOMO and constant trail exploration risks burnout, injury, overtraining, and immunity to the beauty of mother nature. The best trail runners have learned how to say no, so they don’t compromise their training and can maximize their strength as a trail runner.

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Photo: Mile 90 Photography

If you don’t want to improve as a trail runner, then feel free to give in to all the adventures. If you’re keen to get stronger, faster, and run for many years, then saying no is a skill you ought to start practising. Saying no isn’t easy, and requires mental willpower that many of us would rather put toward going hard on the next hill interval. Next time you’re experiencing FOMO, turn off Instagram and ask yourself these questions:

1. What is my why?

Is this adventure part of your training plan or lifelong goal of running until you’re 100 years old? If your body is feeling fatigued or you have a niggle creeping up in your hamstring, it’s best to just say no.

2. Is this trail or mountain going anywhere?

Unless we are about to head into the zombie apocalypse, chances are this adventure will be there tomorrow, next week, and next year.

Photo: Tory Scholz

3. Will my friends disown me if I listen to my body?

If you can, give your friends as much notice as possible before bailing on an alpine adventure. Supporting each other unconditionally is one of the trail running mantras. Real friends want you to do what’s best for you.

4. What would _____ do?

Think of a trail runner at the top of their game, and use them as a model. For example, what would Jim Walmsley or Kat Drew do?

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