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When it comes to different tiers of running, for the majority of people it will go from gym treadmills to roads, and then when you have enough experience, you’ll head out onto the trails. However, there’s a reason for this order and why most people will avoid running trails in the Great Outdoors.
With uneven terrain, uneven paths, and a running surface that, let’s face it, isn’t ideal, trail running can be a challenge. Nevertheless, the beauty, peacefulness, and overall serenity you’ll get back from running an outdoor trail is unparalleled, so it’s well worth getting to this stage.
With this in mind, today we’re going to explore everything you need to know to transfer from the treadmill or road onto an off-road trail, how to prepare yourself, and how to give yourself the best experience. Let’s get straight into it!
Related: Best Trail Running Shoes for Women.
Start easy. If you push yourself too hard and you don’t enjoy yourself, or you even cause your injury by not preparing your body, you’re going to put yourself off trail running, and you won’t want to do it again.
Instead, take your time with your trail run and stride at a gentle and comfortable pace. You should be able to enjoy the scenery around you and enjoy any conversation you may have with your running partner or group.
Incorporating Warms Ups
Instead of starting to up the gear already, start by forming the habit of having your warm-up and warm down at the beginning and end of your runs respectively. Walk quickly or jog slowly to warm up into your runs and reverse the process at the end.
This is important for making sure your body is prepared for the trail run you’re embarking on, and you minimize the risk of sustaining any injuries. Don’t forget to do your stretches before and after you start moving.
Choosing the Right Trails
It’s vital to make sure you’re running the right trails, to begin with, and then working your way up into the more challenging ones. For the first ten weeks of trail running, try to choose trails that include hills and declines of no more than 8%.
This way, you can build strength in your muscles and stamina for your runs without putting too much extra stress of your joints that can increase the risk of injury. If you don’t have hills in your area, it may be best to hold back and stick with treadmills until you’ve built yourself up.
Learn How to Run Downhill
When you run downhill, this is your chance to catch your breath back and prepare yourself for the next challenge, but this is only possible if you do it right. You’ll want to take comfortable strides but hold your speed at a leisurely pace. Let gravity do all the work.
Enjoy a Cocktail of Exercises
When you get into trail running, it’s crucial to make sure you’re not just trail running, but you’re incorporating other exercises into your workout plans. If you’re trail running once a week, make sure you’re partaking in at least two different activities that give your body an all-around workout.
Ideally, you’re going to want to do non-impact training, so perhaps swimming, yoga, using a MyProScooter, or taking a spinning class. This way, you keep your body active while building strength and endurance but won’t solely focus on a few areas of your body.
Don’t forget your warm-ups and cooldowns and aim for 30-60 minutes sessions of whatever you choose!
Never Underestimate Rest
It’s impossible to perform your best if you’re not well-rested, especially if you’re trail running. This point is valid for pretty much every aspect of your life, so make sure you’re going to bed at a good time and waking up at a good time. You should average around seven hours of sleep per night.
However, while some of us may not be able to get all these hours in, making sure you go to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time can be incredibly beneficial. This is because you’ll be able to get your body into a routine where it can repair and give you the best benefits every single day.
Go to Events and Challenge Yourself
Just like road or gym running, there are three main trail events you can get involved in; 5K, 10K, and 15K. Of course, if you’re a beginner to trail running, start with the 5K and start building yourself up.
It can be incredibly beneficial to stick with 5K’s for the first few months, just so you can practice and ensure you can do them comfortably. When you’re happy you can, you can move onto the next stage. However, there’s no reason you can’t challenge yourself.
If you’ve been running for several months and you know you’re capable of doing a 10K, then push yourself to do it within the first ten weeks of starting trail running. You’ll surprise yourself.
The best thing to do is to either practice solo or with a friend or join a running group that uses the trail you want to use. These clubs can offer event invitations, embark on weekly runs, organize fun runs, and overall aim to make trail running a better experience for anybody who wants to get involved.
While trail running may just seem like another form of running for you to sink your teeth into, this simply isn’t the case. If you want to get the most out your trail runs, make sure you’re doing your research and taking your time to maximize both your enjoyment and performance!
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