Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trail Tips

Last weekend I did something I haven’t done in a long time – I went for a trail run. I had been so focused on all these road races, I had forgotten all that the beauty of the trails has to offer. Sure I'm slow, but nothing beats the smell of pine, and eucalyptus, the challenging hill climbs, and let's not forget the occasional wild animal sightings.

Some people recently asked me if I had any tips for newbie trail runners – I certainly do – But by no means am I an expert. I'm just a chick who enjoys running trails.

Unlike pavement, trails are bumpy and unpredictable. Keep your focus ten feet in front of you to catch obstacles, like rocks before it’s too late.

Speaking of obstacles. At one point (or several) in everyone’s trail running career – You are going to fall. You are going to fall hard. It will be frightening, and yes, there might even be blood. When falling try to relax your body (easier said then done.) Most of the time you will tend to fall forward. Act quickly and try to use your hands to catch your fall. The placement of the hands is crucial, so be aware. Also, while it is not ideal to fall on your bum, the bum can endure far more than the head can.
I don’t want to scare you and fear not the trail. Pick up your feet and watch your surroundings and you will be loving life.

Always carry a cell phone. Anything can happen out there and having access to the outside world is preferred. Granted you might not always have service.

As an animal lover, I am always thrilled when I see them on the trails. But not all are cute and friendly or approachable. To see a mountain lion, can be frightening. So stop running. Make noise. Appear bigger than you are. Chances are the animal is more afraid of you than you are of it and will most likely want to get out of the way as quick as possible.
If you don’t trust those Doctor Dolittle instincts of yours, I would recommend carrying animal pepper spray. Yes, animals actually have their own pepper spray as the regular human stuff doesn't affect them. The pepper spray is easy to order online.


Running up steep hill climbs can certainly take its toll. Trail running is a different kind of running. It’s okay to walk. We all do it. Save that energy for the down hills. I assure you no one will point and laugh.

And speaking of down hills, while it may be tempting, don’t get crazy on those hills. Try not to over stride, and step gently on the heel. Keeping your pelvis slightly tucked forward will help keep the momentum forward. It is also good to keep your shoulders slightly forward with your chin facing down.

Bring plenty of water and gels. Trail running takes a bit longer than road running and you are going to get thirsty.

You are wearing trail running shoes right? Just making sure! 

While it’s ideal to run with a buddy, if you happen to be a solo runner hitting the trail for the first time – Check the map first, or better yet, bring one with you!

Stop and take some photos that you can then share with me!

Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers and well, kiss a banana slug!
Do you Have any tips for running the trails?

3 comments:

laughresearchwriterun said...

Great advice! And some of us fall when running on the road too (ok I've falled on the road and on the trail, eh such is life!). I love the photo of you & the banana slug (says the UCSC grad student).

runnergirl training said...

Great post!

stefanoSTRONG said...

naaaa, don't stop to smell...you're loosing time for your chrono!
:)