Yesterday, I went trail running after a long time of jogging only on paved streets. It made me realize how one can "forget" trail running, as it took some effort to keep up with my trail running partner! For those new to trail running, here are some tips to get you started:
Have shoes with good traction
This almost goes without saying, but shoes with good traction are a must. You might encounter gravel, mud, or even rock hopping over a creek, and the last thing you want is to end up twisting an ankle because of a slip or fall.
Don't stare at your shoes
You'll have to watch your step if you're jogging on uneven terrain, but don't stare at your shoes. Instead, look at the trail several yards in front of you. You'll learn to sub-consciously step over or around rocks as you get to them, and meanwhile your posture will be better, you'll see more of the scenery, and you won't be waiting till the last second before you realize there's a rattlesnake on the trail.
Don't be afraid to get dirty!
If you're jogging in the early morning, your shoes and socks will be drenched with water from soaking up the dew on the grass, and your calves will be covered in mud. But that's okay. Water will dry, and you were going to take a shower afterwards, anyway. Just make sure you wear breathable shoes and socks made of a synthetic material, and your feet will thank you.
Tips on going downhill
Take small steps, and lean back. You'll be painfully slow at first, and it's surprising how much mental energy it takes to concentrate on not tripping. But trust me, you'll get a lot faster with practice!
Keep your ankles strong
Land on your toes and keep your ankle strong, especially on rough terrain or on uphill climbs. (This is easier to do with thin-soled shoes.) You'll reduce your risk of injury.
That means no cell phones. One of the greatest benefits of trail running is that it lets us escape from technology that so often distracts us from being in the moment, and allows us to retreat into nature. The only things my jogging partner and I carried were the car keys and a large knife in a holster that was attached to the waist (since we were in mountain lion country).
What do you carry with you when trail running? Please write in the comments if you have any other tips to share. See you on the trail!