If you’re bored running the same city (or neighborhood) streets as always, maybe you’re looking to introduce something new and different to your routine. Something new and different such as trail running. While its cooler to have a decent mountainous terrain nearby to make the view while running even more enjoyable, you can find decent trails just about everywhere or at least 30 minutes outside whatever city you live near. Tried running with nature and it didn’t go as planned? Well here are 5 tips to help you increase your trail performance and allow you to enjoy it even more.
1. Train Yourself to Visually Track Ahead of Your Steps
It takes more work for you to track in front of your immediate step and will often ruin your stride and will end in you running into branches or stones you could have avoided if your eyes were up. While trail running, keep your head in its normal position, moving eyes up from a 310 degree to a 350 angle so that your focus is on 5 steps ahead. Don’t worry, your brain is already signaling to your body where to move in the space between your feet and your 5 foot ahead visual space. Trust me, by practicing this, you’ll feel much less overwhelmed by the constant barrage of new information you’re taking in, and your brain having to interpret it so quickly.
2. Slow It Down Or Walk If Need Be
For those who are frequent runners, the idea is that you start running up a trail and float near effortlessly over stone and rock and puddle and feel invincible on top of whatever mountain you’re climbing. Except you start and you step on a rock wrong, your lungs are grasping for something that isn’t there, and you’re questioning if that puddle was filled with only muddy water. The want to never walk or slow down is there, but when beginning something, its important to check your ego at the trail head. Trail running can be like your first times at yoga. You need time to get the flow and feel the moves and before you know it, you’re vinyasa-ing yourself into harder and more inclined trails.
3. If You’re a Beginner, Don’t You Dare Go Advanced
Difficult trail runs aren’t difficult just because of their incline or their varying terrains. They are tough because they take more knowledge and accessorizing than a beginner has. Beginner trails only call for a handheld water bottle…advanced is calling for a 2 liter Camelbak. Trail running isn’t just about whether you can run the distance, but its whether you know how to contend with the elements. You’re not running past your local Starbucks, you’re running through mother nature! Remember what you are and try new trails as appropriate.
4. Get the Right Shoes
This goes without saying, but trying to take on rocky terrain in your favorite Nike Free’s isn’t smart. If you’re not ready to splurge on spanking new trail shoes, opt for a set that have more stability and grip. This will keep your ankles unrolled and your joints working.
5. Realize Trail Running is Better Because of Where You’re Running
The thing about trail running is that its absolutely fun! It can be sensory overload, constantly navigating new terrain and taking in the sights. Its quieter than a busy street, and more relaxing than most runs should be. No matter how much you like or dislike nature, running with it is some of the best running you’ll get. Enjoy it…half the time you won’t even notice that your lungs have zero oxygen to move your body on.