By Lauren Denos: 9/30/2014 (Fitness)

Trail running is fun, cheap, and gets you outdoors!

Many people have taken up running for their health. It is a sport that requires only a pair of running shoes and, therefore, is a very affordable exercise. If you like the idea of running but the indoor treadmills (hamster wheels) sound boring, or if you already like running but you want a more scenic run and more of a challenge, then trail running may be the sport you have been looking for. It is a challenging yet peaceful change of pace to the day. To be able to get outside and get some fresh air, and hopefully some sun, can make you feel more alive.

Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Trail running differs in that you are running on an unstable surface. You might be running on gravel, rocks, deep sand, mud, etc. Many find it more fun for this reason. You can enjoy the nature around you, instead of cars noisily rushing by on the street. This can make for a much needed recharge.
  2. When you are trail running, you must use more stabilization muscles. This means not only in your core, but also your leg muscles. Your footing is always changing, so this is a good challenge for your balance as well.
  3. Unstable footing can be good and bad. The way it’s good, as aforementioned, is it challenges your body consistently in new ways. It can also help create better agility. On the other hand, it creates a negative result with those who have coordination or joint issues. Unstable surface instigate hazards for those who are prone to twisting an ankle. If you have joint issues, then you may want to think about a low impact exercise, like hiking, and go easy on the running.
  4. Just like with any other exercise, it’s good to go your own pace. For instance, starting off walking before tackling steep hills might be a beneficial option. In doing this, you will build up endurance and strength, and soon it will become easier to explore new trails. As you get better, running will become more of a regular thing in your exercise, and the more you improve, the better your speed. If it gets too easy, though, then you are not giving it your all.
  5. Always scan ahead of you while running trails to prevent stumbles and falls. There can be a lot of debris, rocks and roots sticking up, and that can lead to injury. Try to break the tendency to zone out, and stay attentive. Alert to your surroundings. You will know when you have become inattentive, because that’s when injuries happen on the trail.
  6. If you are running in the middle of nowhere, or just far away from a town, see if you can recruit a friend to run with you. It can not only be more fun to share with a friend, but also much safer. As the saying goes, “there is safety in numbers,” and this holds true in many situations. Running on a more maintained, busy trail is ok to run alone on, yet it’s more fun to exercise with a friend. Not to mention, it’s a good way to keep each other accountable on workouts!

What Do You Need to Start Trail Running?

  1. Wear the right shoes for your trail running. You want to make sure you are wearing shoes that fit properly. If your shoes are too lose, then running on the uneven surface can be more hazardous. Make sure your shoes have a hard enough sole so that running on rocks, or any other type of obstacle on the path, do not cause problems for you.

  2. Map out your trail and know where you are going. This is especially important for people who are going to run in wilderness areas. Always know where you are.

  3. Have water on hand. Since you will be outdoors, you will be less likely to find water fountains. So, always be prepared.

  4. Wear your sunscreen, and hat if you need one. We always think we are taking less time than we really are. Before you know it, you have been out an hour or more in the sun, and you have a lobster-like sun burn.

  5. Remember to layer up if you are in colder areas. In many places, the weather changes in the blink of an eye. It is important to have something with you if the weather turns cold.

  6. Always have your phone, or some way of getting in touch with people, in case of an emergency. If you are running in an area with no cell reception, you may want to turn your phone off or turn on airplane mode. Otherwise, the phone can use up all of its battery searching for a signal. Of course, you will still need to find an area with a cell signal, but that is easier with a charged phone.

  7. Use bug repellent. Depending on where you are running, bug repellent may be a good idea. Especially if you are running near a stream or other source of water, the mosquitos love this kind of area. If you are running in tall grass, you want to protect against ticks.

  8. Wearing a headlamp or small flashlight is a great idea, especially if you are starting your run later in the day. All it takes is one wrong turn, and you are looking for your way back to the car after dark. Getting a mini flashlight for your keychain, or one that can fit in your pocket, is very useful to have handy for situations like these.

  9. Carry a snack. If you get lost, or if you are just on a long run, you may need that snack. There is nothing worse than realizing you are starving and being an hour away from your car. This is an especially important tip for those with blood sugar problems.

Trail running can be a fun, challenging and an exhilarating activity to take up.

You will work your body in different ways and use muscle groups in a much more varied way than you would on a typical, flat-surface run. Most people remark they have much more fun when running outdoors or on interesting trails. It makes them look forward to their workouts. There’s only one way to discover the workout and exercise routine that works for you.

Test it out!





 

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-Lauren