If you have running experience, you should be able to handle a trail run. Just keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for your run.
Run on roads for a while before moving to trails. It helps to have a base level of fitness before you attempt your first trail run. Wear trail running shoes (refer to our article ‘how to choose trail running shoes’ under the category ‘product buying tips’ and dress in high performance running clothes that are appropriate for all potential weather conditions.
Prepare by eating and drinking the proper things before and during your run. Run on trails that are suitable to your level of fitness. Choose flat trails if you’re a beginner or more challenging trails if you’re an experienced runner.
Plan ahead. If the trail is an ‘out and back’ make sure you turn around early enough to enable you to run all the way back to the trailhead. Find a reliable partner if the trails you will be running on are remote or difficult to get to. Remember to warm up before you begin. Stretch your legs and arms and walk for a few minutes.
Keep your head up and your eyes on the trail ahead. Avoid looking down at your feet. Watch for obstacles such as rocks, roots, logs and branches. Stay on the trail at all times, even when it’s muddy or wet. Cutting switchbacks and bypassing tricky sections leads to trail deterioration.
Pace yourself. Save energy for the miles ahead. Slow down on steep climbs. Many experienced trail runners ‘power walk’ steep sections and make up the lost times on flats and downhill slopes. Stay in control on steep descents. Keep your head up, control your speed and avoid obstacles.
Warm down during the last few minutes of your run. Stretch after you have finished.