Trail running is fast becoming a more popular choice than hitting the pavements for runners. There are a number of reasons for this, namely;
- Less impact on the knees and ankles than hard tarmac.
- More mentally stimulating navigating trails and countryside.
- Cleaner air than inner-city running.
We can’t all live near the countryside unfortunately. But if you are fortunate enough to and you’re not taking up the opportunity to go trail running – you are missing out.
Trail running is a lot more interesting and fulfilling than running on pavements or roads. You get to experience the great outdoors, see nature, navigate through different obstacles and running surfaces, and get a great workout in.
There are some potential hazards with trail running to be aware of however. But with some forward thinking and preparation you be safe while running.
Here are some of the things you should be thinking about;
Make Sure a Friend Knows Where You’re Running
Always be prepared for the worst case scenario that will never happen. This means always let a friend know where you are going to be running, and the approximate time you will return.
It’s a good peace of mind for them as much as you. And, should you get sidetracked for any reason, they will know where to start looking.
Talk to Someone Who Has Hiked the Trail Before
Running a trail blind isn’t part of the experience. Always try and find someone who has run the trail before and ask them if there are any surprises, what the challenges are, etc.
Telling yourself you will just use trail signs is not a good idea. I’ve found these to be less than helpful on a number of occasions.
Pick a Trail Realistic to Your Ability
I probably don’t have to tell you that no two trails are the same. The difficulty can vary a lot, this is something you should understand from talking to someone familiar with the trail.
Always push yourself, but do so in a sensible way. There is nothing to be gained from tackling a trail that beats you after a few minutes.
Always Take the Essentials with You
Never leave home without water to stay hydrated. A hydration bladder is the most convenient way to keep hydrated and not interrupt your run.
Take any medication you rely on, and a way to call back home in an emergency if you can. Better safe than sorry.
Be aware of what weather conditions you are going to be running in. Wear a windbreaker, extra layers of warmth, or go light if that’s what is best suited to the given day.
Choice of footwear is also important to avoid injury. A little due diligence before heading off will make the whole run more enjoyable and successful.
So Now You’re Safe, What Are the Benefits of Trail Running?
It’s estimated that trail running burns 10% more calories than normal pavement running. While also having less impact on your joints, and giving your leg muscles a more well-rounded workout across the different terrains.
So if burning more calories, getting a better workout, and being safer on your body isn’t enough, I’m not sure what else I can say to convince you.
It’s not hard to get started either. I’m sure with a little research you can find a trail near your home. You can start with any trails that are off-road. This can include grassy areas, sand, dirt, or other surfaces that are not concrete.
If you are deep in the city and the nearest off-road trails are miles away, it’s worth taking a drive to get there. Even if you can only go out there at weekends, mixing off-road running into your running routine brings some much needed variation.
So there you have it, you no longer have any excuses. Find your nearest trail to run, keep all of the safety points in mind, and have fun!