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Getting Into Trail Running

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I’m sure the thought of trail running seems like a superhero feat, but it’s actually not as bad as you might think. Trail running is similar to running on a track or road, with the added benefit of letting you reconnect with nature while getting in a little cardio. Trail running has other benefits that basic road running does not. Surprisingly, trail running puts less pressure on your joints, leading to fewer injuries in the long run. Now you’re thinking, “Well, running on uneven ground is dangerous,” which is true if you’re not careful, but along with road running, all sports have their pros and cons. For those who are just starting out, there are a few things you need to know before hitting the trails.

Start out slow

Obviously it’s called trail running for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you need to fully sprint up and down the trail. Start off slow to get into the groove of things. Rugged terrain can sometimes be tricky, so don’t be ashamed to slow down and take your time when running. If you’re prone to knee and ankle injuries, trail running is lower-impact compared to running on solid, hard surfaces like pavement or track, especially if you take it easy at first.

Be prepared

Like any kind of exercising, you’ll need water. Running up an incline while simultaneously dodging rocks, avoiding branches, and making sure your footing is correct can be quite the workout. Most small hiking backpacks will have chest and waist clips to strap that baby in nice and tight. I like to be extra prepared with snacks and a small first aid kit just in case as well.

Have proper footwear

Just like in hiking, ankle rolls are common. I suggest light weight, ankle high hiking boots for the extra support. Again, if you’re prone to ankle injuries, ankle braces can be helpful as well. If you just have tennis shoes, make sure they have a good amount of tread for footing purposes.

Know the rules of the trail

It’s good to know what kind of trail you will be running and the traffic it has because not all trails are the same. Yield to other hikers and runners and remember that it is better safe than sorry. Not doing so is potentially dangerous, and even without injury, no one wants to be shoved off the trail by someone else.

Elbows out

Use those arms! Balance is everything. Trail running is great in the way that it works out muscles you didn’t even know you had. Utilizing your arms will help you get better footing and help you balance as you run on rugged terrain.

Keep your eyes on the prize

While simultaneously watching your footing, dodging obstacles, and focusing on your breathing, always keep your eye on the trail. No one wants to trip over a tree root or rock and injure themselves. Running, tripping, and falling down a mountainside sounds like a nightmare. Avoid that by being attentive to your surroundings.

Take it all in

Last but not least, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers or the sheer sweat that you’ve worked up while running through our beautiful Utah scenery. The biggest benefit of trail running is the change of scenery anyway, right? Happy trail running!

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

Last modified: April 24, 2018

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