Are you tired of pounding the pavement, running alongside exhaust-belching SUVs and delivery trucks? Do you long for the serene calm of trees, lakes, rivers and meadows? If so, then it's time to head out into the wild for a trail run. But before you do, read these tips on what to expect and what gear you'll need for a safe and enjoyable run.
Be Ready For Rough Terrain
There are three big ways the terrain can differ when running off-road as compared to running on the sidewalk or even on paved park trails.
Hills: Expect a lot of them, and know that they aren't likely to be set at a nice steady grade the way paved trails and roads are. They're likely to jut sharply up or down, and may include natural obstacles or unstable surfaces.
Erratic Turns: Most trails are designed to take the path of least resistance through nature, which means you're likely to encounter dozens or hundreds of little twists and turns as you navigate around trees, boulders, rivers and gullies. Be ready for those turns and be aware that dodging Mother Nature is bound to slow you down. You should expect your trail run pace to be considerably slower than your normal road pace.
Variable Surfaces: Over the course of a single trail run, you could very well encounter grass, gravel, mud, sand, puddles, streams and a host of slippery or sharp running surfaces. Even on well-known trails, recent weather events like large amounts of rain, long periods of drought or downed trees can change the terrain. Be prepared for this ahead of time and stay vigilant throughout your run.