Go Off-Road: The Ins and Outs of Trail Running

3. Run with a partner or a group. You'll be less likely to get lost if you have two or more people running the same trail, and you may find the run more enjoyable, to boot. If you thrive in the company of solitude and the rhythm of your own breathing, be sure to let someone know where you'll be running and when you expect to be back.

4. Always look two steps ahead. It is crucial to keep a constant eye out for obstacles that may be on the trail. Trail running takes a special focus. Taking your eye of the terrain for just a moment could result in a twisted ankle, or worse.

5. Wear the proper clothing. Regardless of the season, trail running requires a different wardrobe than road running. Long-sleeved shirts and pants will keep your arms and legs protected from the brush and branches that may be along the trail. A bright hat, which will keep bugs out of your hair and make you more visible on the trail, is also helpful.

6. Don't forget the water. You won't likely find water on the trail, so bring some with you. You should aim for 6 to 8 oz. of fluid for every 20 minutes of activity. Consider wearing a waist pack or a camel pack to keep your hands free.

7. Think in terms of time rather than mileage when planning (or evaluating) your run. Don't worry about the distance of the trail, which is often difficult to determine unless it has already been mapped out for you. Also, because of unsure footing, sharp turns and unfamiliarity with the terrain, your pace may be a bit slower on the trail than on your regular running routes. Measure your run by time and effort spent on the trail.

8. Keep an eye out for other athletes. Mountain bikers love to hit the trails, and often pick up quite a bit of speed. Be cautious approaching hills and turns, and realize that bikers may not be looking for you. This is where the bright hat comes in handy.

9. Leave the trail in the same condition you found it. One of the most enjoyable aspects of trail running is the natural beauty surrounding you while you run. Please leave the area just as you found it for the others who may follow in your steps. Most of all, enjoy your time spent on the trails.

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