Get off the Beaten Path – How to Start Trail Running
Whether you’re looking for a new challenge or simply want to spend more time in the outdoors, ditching the pavement for a good old fashioned dirt trail can make running fun and enjoyable. Many studies have shown running on natural surfaces can reduce impact-related injuries on your knees, ankles, shins, and hips and we can certainly vouch for the mental and spiritual benefits of nature.
Even if you don’t live in a trail running hub like Durango or Santa Fe, you can still find paths in major urban areas like Los Angeles or New York. So pick a trail and try out these tips for getting started!
- Start easy – Even if you’ve been road running for years, a trail can be a whole different animal. Rocks, roots, and even small variations in the surface of the trail can lead to an unexpected tumble or sprained ankle. Just like skiing or mountain biking, pick an easy trail to gain confidence and let your body adjust to running on an uneven surface.
- Look at a map – Finding “The Zone” can be great, but it’s easy to get lost or turned around if you aren’t paying attention. Research your trail and look at a map before heading out.
- Phone a friend – let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
- Join a running group – Even Brooklyn has a trail running club. Find a group of other trail runners to keep you motivated and introduce you to trails in the area.
- Get the gear – From trail running shoes with an aggressive tread to gaiters and ultra-vests, consider investing in a bit of specialized gear for your new sport. Trail running shoes have a different fit, profile, and tread than road running shoes and can help you navigate rocky, muddy, or gravelly terrain safer than road running shoes.
- Don’t be afraid to walk – Trail running can be much more strenuous than road running – mentally and physically. Don’t worry about slowing down and even walking, especially on the uphills. Most ultra-runners walk uphill and cruise downhill as it’s generally more efficient.