There is nothing in the running world that can really compare to the feeling of a good hard trail run. It really is the tops, the mix of adrenaline, lung busting climbs and beautiful views is a wonderful combination but it can be a little overwhelming to know where to get started for newbies. So we put together these nine simple tips to get you out on the trails in no time.
Part of what makes trail running so awesome is how wildly different each and every route can be. While this certainly puts a stop to boredom it does make it difficult to predict just how tough a route will be. So take it easy in the beginning both with pace and distance - for your first few runs find a route that looks easy - half the distance and knock your pace down a few notches.
Respect the Trails.
You see runners aren't the only ones who've figured out just how awesome getting out on the trails is: mountain bikers, dog walkers, hikers, photographers and even the odd motorbike all share the same routes. Give way to others where you can, stick to paths where possible and leave the trails just as you found them.
As we said in our first tip - trails can be deceptively hard. So come prepared for the worst. Always carry water, food, a phone and let someone know where you are these are the absolute basics. On top of these a map and a set of waterproof clothes will go a long way.
Going for a trail run and looking at your feet the whole time is a travesty for two reasons. Firstly you are going to miss out on all the beautiful views and secondly you're going to slow yourself down. Instead look up and about 5 feet ahead, your feet will do their job if you trust them to remember what you have already scanned the ground for. When you are new or on steep declines it can be tempting to revert back to looking right down at your feet but any obstacles will be in front of you before you realise they are there making you more prone to tumbles.
To start with a sturdy pair of running shoes will be absolutely fine for the gentler trails. Once you've got a taste for it though a good pair of trail shoes, a running vest/pack and a decent waterproof will go a long way.
Don't be Ashamed to Walk.
The not so dirty secret of trail and ultra running is that even the top guys walk the really tough hills and run on the declines and flat bits. There is absolutely no shame in walking and sometimes it's just the fastest and most efficient thing to do.
Trail running requires more than just a great big set of lungs and strong legs, there are also a few technical elements which you need to practice just like any other skill. Find a tricky part of the trail, for me it's technical downhills, and practice on it until it starts to feel comfortable.
If You Love it - Race.
Racing is about more than just trying to win or set a new PB, it's a great way to discover new trails, push yourself in a safe environment and pick up tips from the other runners. What's more a race gives your training a purpose and a goal to work towards both of which are super important for keeping motivation high.