Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Top Three Trail Tips

I recently discovered I LOVE trail running... but, let's be real, it hasn't always been that way. In fact, I would say I was pretty intimidated when it came to running on anything other than pavement for a long while. With that said, I thought I'd share some of my top tips in case you have been avoiding the dirt but want to find the courage to start tackling the trails.

[FYI: I am in no way a professional and this list is no way exhaustive, I'm just sharing some of my top tips with folks who may be interested in a change of scenery or switching up their running. I have not included safety tips such as telling someone where you are going and when they should expect you back, bringing extra hydration and nutrition with you, being aware of your surroundings {especially during snake season, when entering bear/ mountain lion/ unfamiliar territory}, etc - but please do also take these very important precautions as well! Safety {along with enjoyment} is KEY!]

1. Forget Pace

I'll be honest, I think this is what scared me the most. I have always been a numbers kind-of-gal, so hitting the dirt and seeing the slower paces on my watch sort of threw me for a loop. But you have to remember, when running trails you will most likely be running slower than you would on pavement. There are a few reasons for this - the terrain is normally uneven so you have to watch your footing more, the rocks/ roots/ trees can change your stride and speed (you'll most likely shorten your stride so you can react quicker to obstacles), there's normally more elevation change than a standard road run, etc. Despite the potentially slower pace, I promise the trails are worth it. And if you're stressing out your speed, change the face of your watch to show something other than pace - like the time of day. (I've heard when transitioning from road to trails you should run based on time. For example, if it normally takes you 60 minutes to run 6 miles, head out for a 60 minute run and be okay with whatever distance you cover - you'll get a similar workout despite the shorter distance. It'll also give you a better sense of your "trail speed" so you don't go out for a longer run than you're ready for.)

2. Enjoy the Views

Seeing as you will slow your pace, you'll have more time to soak in the beauty all around you. Don't get me wrong, city running is awesome (and beach running is one of my FAVES) but getting out into nature is AMAZEBALLS! And if you're going to get up close and personal with the environment, you should take the time to soak it all in. Don't be afraid to take a quiet moment for yourself, walk the hills or pull out your phone to try and capture the beauty (but, be forewarned, I promise the pictures will never do the place justice). I find trail running an awesome time to reflect, pray and take in the moment. Honestly, I've been known to have a giddy smile on my face the entire time of a trail run (even with crazy rains, winds, difficult terrain, etc) because I'm focused on God's creation and the blessing I've been given to be able to enjoy it.

3. Get Trail Shoes

Whenever I'm asked by a new runner (or someone hoping to start) what the most important piece of advice I can offer is I ALWAYS say to get fitted for shoes! Having the right (or wrong) shoes for your body can make a HUGE difference. I will always recommend going to your local running store and having them analyze your form, gait, cadence, etc and allow them to make suggestions on what shoes you should be running in (rather than just buying whatever is the cutest or cheapest, which can be a recipe for disaster). And trail running is no different. Trail shoes are typically made from tougher materials than road shoes and are built to withstand the extra wear and tear. You can totally wear your road shoes on the trails, but traction can often be an issue and trail shoes tend to have better grip. [I personally rock the Brooks Cascadia 12 and the hubby is loving the Altra Olympus 2 - but like with any running shoe, you have to find what works best for you!]

There is always other trail gear you could get - like a rain shell or hydration pack - but first and foremost look into SHOES!

Now you just have to find a trail! There are plenty of great websites you can use to find running (or hiking) trails in your neck of the woods. Most of them will even give you a degree of difficulty in the description. If you are just trying your hand (or foot) at trail running, keep it flat and mellow until you get comfortable on the dirt. Then get wild; the sky's trail's the limit!

PS If you'll be in SoCal on November 10th and want to rock a trail race, you should join a crew of us at the Griffith Park Trail Race. There's a 30K, Half Marathon and 10K - and if you use code "CARGP" you'll save $10 on your registration!

Do you enjoy road running or trail running more?


Heather RFC said...

Great post! I am a trail runner through and through. It's stolen my heart, to the point where I don't care if I ever run pavement again, haha! One of my #1 tips for new trail runners is to remember to PICK UP YOUR FEET! The road shuffle will cause you to faceplant on the trails if you aren't careful!

SD Mom said...

I love trail running (in my Hoka Speedgoats) but I am terrified to do it in the summer. Snakes scares the bejeesus out of me!

Virjinia @ With Purpose and Kindness said...

I'm a road runner for sure but I do like to take some breaks and head out to the trails nearby. Shoes are super important but the trails I do hit aren't too technical so i take my chances on mine. Also, totally agree on time/pace!