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The profound feeling of Nature: birds chirping, small animals rustling around in the bushes, the smell of the trees, the fresh air… all of this peaceful beauty interrupted by my heavy breathing as I haul myself up a steep incline. Ah, the joy of trail running! I started running trails years ago, as a way to mix it up from my daily road running routine. It was a chance to slow it down, enjoy nature, worry less about the pace and give my joints a break from the concrete.
When I first started out trail running, I had so many questions and uncertainties. What shoes do I wear? What do I need to carry? Where do I go? All of these are common questions when getting started with any new activity. But fret not, my nature loving friends- I’ve got the basics covered with 3 tips to get you outside and enjoying all the goodness that is trail running!
Selecting an appropriate pair of trail specific shoes for your adventure is important. The main considerations when choosing a shoe should be the following:
What type of terrain will you be running on? Trail shoes are designed with different terrain types in mind. Muddy, wet, soft terrains require deeper, more spaced out lugs which provide better grip and traction in those conditions. Shorter, more tightly spaced lugs are better for dry, hard packed trails where they provide better steadiness and efficiency.
What distances will you cover? In addition to the type of terrain you will be running on, the distance on the trail you will travel on is also important as it relates to cushion and underfoot protection. Longer distances may require more a more cushioned shoe, while shorter distances or races may require a less cushioned more proprioceptive feeling shoe.
How frequently will I be trail running? New to trail- choose a lightweight, comfortable shoe with a more versatile tread. For more frequent training or performance improvement, choose something with a more aggressive tread and good mid-foot and underfoot support, ideal for longer hours on the trail. And for those looking to compete, choose something lightweight, responsive and technical to get those PR’s!
Selecting the right clothing is a must. When choosing apparel for the trail, you have to keep in mind that the weather can change quickly. Specifically, for longer runs, you will want to dress in layers so that you can keep cool/warm depending on the conditions. For a top, look for lightweight moisture-wicking materials. Consider a long-sleeve layer or vest for cooler conditions. A lightweight, waterproof jacket is a must for protection from rain and wind. Shorts should be quick drying, tear resistant, and have plenty of pockets for storage. A hat and sunglasses can also be helpful to protect from the elements as well as debris.
Keeping hydrated and fueled while out on the trail is key! Start with either a handheld water bottle for shorter distances or a hydration vest for longer distances. Vests and bottles come in a variety of sizes and capacities depending on the duration of your run. A hydration vest is a great option to hold water, food and clothing layers. If you need a quick boost of energy, gels and gummies/chews are a great and easy to carry option. You can also opt for things like energy bars and waffles. Keep in mind, whatever trash you bring in, you need to bring out! It’s best to always practice a leave-no-trace mentality while out on the trails!