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Running trails is a different way to feel your favorite outdoor places. It refers to any running that takes place off-road, greenfields, dirt tracks, forests, mountain trails, and rough mountain areas. It is suitable for both beginners and experienced runners due to the endless number of routes to choose from. 

Some routes may be very technical with slippery dirt, random rocks, and other obstacles for running, while the others will be less difficult. Trail running has even been said to have several benefits over road running thanks to the various kinds of surfaces. 

If you are doubly sure about what to do in trail running, fear not, this article will provide you with essential needs and strategies for you to start your trail running.

Gear

One of the things that make trail running so great is that you don’t need a lot of gear to carry. The most important thing to consider is which shoes to wear – you can use your road shoes when you’re just starting on easy trails, but you’ll want trail running shoes as soon as you hit trails with rocks, roots, or slippery mud. See the list of kinds of trail shoes below so you can pick the right shoes for your trail runs.

Kinds of trail shoes:

  1. Light Trail shoes – these shoes are designed for smoother terrains. It is usually lightweight, and they’re slightly stiffer and more protective than road shoes. The uppers are typically light and breathable, and its outsoles have shallow lugs for excellent traction on gravel and pack soil.
  2. Rugged trail shoes – these shoes can shine on everything from extensive smooth trails to challenging rough trails. Usually, these shoes come with extra protection like toe guards and underfoot plates to protect your feet from rocks and roots. It also has internal shanks, which makes them stiffer to keep you more stable on a steep trail. The outsoles have deep multi-directional lugs and grippy rubber designed for exceptional traction in mud and soft soil.
  3. Off-trail shoes – are designed to handle whatever how the rough trail is. It is also the same with rugged trail shoes, but it has more substantial material used for extra stiffness. Usually, its upper part is thicker, so they won’t snack on rocks. These shoes are designed for protection and stability, not speed. 

Food and water

Another thing to think about is how to carry your food water and maybe extra accessories while running. A handheld water bottle with a small zippered pocket for an energy drink is great for your shorter runs. Waist packs provide more space for food or water on your longer trips – they’re also nice if you’d like to run with hands-free. You want to look at a running pack or vest if you are expecting to be gone for a couple of hours and need to bring extra food, water, or even clothes.  

What to bring for long trail runs?

Bringing some things to trail runs are depending on where you’re going, how far you’re going and what the weather looks like. Bare necessities literally, you’re going to trail running and must-have shoes, socks, food and water, and extra clothing or running clothes. Other than those basics, don’t forget the keys. In terms of cold weather, you must consider having an extra layer with you like waist warmers, a hat, running jacket, and lightweight gloves – they’re not taking too much space or weight in your pack – these items will give you warmth when the weather is really cold. 

You need to bring a navigation supply like a map, compass and also you must have the skills and knowledge to use them, a first aid kit like band-aids and blister packs painkillers, antihistamine in case you’re worried about allergic reaction for you or anybody who’s with you. Also, don’t forget to bring sunscreens, knife, and water purification tablets – just in case you run out of the water and you don’t want to get sick drinking out of the first stream. Other than those, you also need a headlight in case it gets dark early. 

Trail Running Strategies

Whether you’re new to trail running and just looking to dial in your skills, focusing on a few key techniques can help you to improve your flow over the technical trail and increase efficiency on climbs and descents. 

Overall Technique

Stride Length 

The first important thing to focus on is your stride length – trail running requires a shorter stride to keep you agile and ready to adapt quickly to obstacles. Along with keeping a short stride, you want to keep your shoulders in a neutral and relaxed position so your lungs have room to fully inflate. To make sure you’re not getting too hunched over, it helps to occasionally roll your shoulders back and let them relax. 

Swing Your Arms

An efficient swing will help you build momentum and keep you in balance. Keep your hands relaxed and make sure you pump your arms along the side of your torso rather than cross it. 

Keep Your Eyes On The Trail

You want to scan the trail 10 to 15 feet in front of you – to stay balanced, it’s important not to look straight down at your feet. 

Downhill Strategies

When you start hitting downhill try to lean forward from your ankles and land on your midfoot this will help you on keeping your speed, stay balanced and lessen the impact on your joints. Avoid hard hell strikes on descents that can increase the pressure on your joints and disrupt your flow. Also, wing up your elbows to the sides for extra balance. 

Uphill Strategies

When you start heading uphill try to keep the same cadence you have on the flats by further shortening your stride. This way will not put an extra strain on your legs or your cardio system. Switch to speed hiking, and it’s often more efficient to switch over to a fast hiking pace rather than trying to maintain a run over steep or technical terrain.

Spend some efforts on these techniques, and pretty soon, you’ll be an efficient trail runner.

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