Lauren’s Rules for Trail RunningPosted: March 9, 2012
Yesterday was tough. I knew that the weather was absolutely beautiful outside, but since I don’t have any windows in my classroom (I know- no windows in an art room?!?!), I didn’t get to actually see it. I was constantly looking for a “fast-forward” button to make the day go by faster and dreaming of this view that I knew awaited me after work:
The final bell finally rang, and I headed out to hit the trails. I was greeted by a big hug of warmth and fresh air when I finally stepped outside. It was windy- but warm wind, which is totally tolerable. Check out the temperature- not bad for the first full week of March in Maryland!
My original plan for the day (when I saw the forecast) was to go for a run around the neighborhood; probably a 6 or 7-miler. But, since it was windy, I figured that trail running might be better. Since my house is directly on the way to the trails, I made a quick pit stop on the way to pick up Jackson.
We pulled up to Gambrill State Park, and the lot was pretty full (it’s never full at 3:30 in the afternoon!).
While I was running yesterday, I was actually thinking about writing this post and why I love trail running so much. Although I feel like I get a better workout overall when I run trails (as opposed to running on the road), I feel like it is a lot easier on my legs and feet, because I’m not striking the exact same spot with my feet over and over again. It definitely takes practice to feel comfortable with trail-running, but I think it’s totally worth it. When I’m running trails (or outside in general), I prefer not to listen to music. This lets me really just focus on my thoughts and enjoy being out in nature. And, let’s face it- I also talk to my dogs while I’m running with them, and music would interfere with that. 🙂
Lauren’s Rules for Trail Running
1. Wear appropriate shoes.
It’s not advised to run in hiking boots (which don’t offer much ankle flexibility) or street running shoes, because they are not designed to grip rocky surfaces well. I suggest wearing shoes specifically designed for trail running. I am faithful to Brooks for running on the road or on trails, and Iove these shoes.
2. If possible, grab a running buddy
Jackson and Lance are some of my favorite running buddies. I have a few (human) friends that are great companions too, but not everyone else has a job that lets them out as early as mine does. My dogs are perfect running buddies, because they are full of energy and push (or pull, rather) me to go faster.
3. Pay attention to your footing (watch where you’re going!).
It’s best to look about 2 feet in front of you as you’re running, but you’ve also got to be aware of what is going on all around you. You will need to learn how to stop on and around rocks, roots, and other things along the trail. It’s really easy to trip and fall (and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of falls!) or get an injury, specifically a twisted or sprained ankle. Get to know the trails and how they twist and turn and where the big hills are. Start out slow, and like with all things, you’ll get better with practice!
4. Slow down on steep inclines as needed.
If you are losing energy to run uphill, you might be more likely to lose focus and trip over a rock or debris. There’s no shame in slowing down on a section of a trail that is steep- even if you have to walk it. Your heart rate will remain high, and you’ll get a great burst of energy as soon as the trail flattens out.
5. Pound it out on flat sections (especially on dirt!)
Dirt is my absolute favorite surface to run on – I could run on dirt all day. It’s so different from running on asphalt because it cushions the impact from your feet. It just feels better! When I come to a flat, dirt section on a trail, I take advantage and really fly. But, be aware- the trail conditions could change at any time!
6. Pay close attention on downhills and slow down as necessary
To me, the most difficult part of trail running are the downhills. The particular trail that I was running yesterday has about a 1/2 mile stretch of continuous steep declines. This is where it is the most important to really pay attention to where you are striking your feet, because the extra momentum of going downhill can really cause you to take a nasty spill if you trip. Just be cautious.
7. When you pass other people on the trail, smile and say hello!
It is customary to say hello to others that you see on the trail- so follow suit! When you’re outside enjoying nature, you should be happy- so share it with others! I find it incredibly rare (and odd) to pass another person on a trail who does not say hello and smile.