Trail running is a great way to mix up your training routine. But you will deal with unpredictable terrain, so here’s a few tips to be safe on the trail.
Find Your Route
The great thing about running on a trail is that you can throw yourself into nature without worrying about where you’re going—or what pace you’re hitting. All this is true, but it’s important to study the trails and their terrain before you take off. Be aware that it may take you twice as long as your normal run, so slow your pace and find a rhythm. Keep your eyes on the trail. It can be tempting to look at the nature around you, but doing so can quickly lead to tripping and falling.
Don’t Get Lost
Before even heading out for your run, review the trail map and then download it on your cell phone. In addition, consider packing these items if you commonly run long distances on unfamiliar, isolated trails:
- A GPS watch: Some new GPS watches have live tracking, as does MapMyRun MVP, which lets your loved ones track your exact whereabouts while you’re away from home.
- Cell phone: Having a way to call for help is essential should you suffer an injury or get lost.
- A trail map and compass: If for some reason your electronics aren’t working, these basic items can help you get back on track should you veer off your intended trail.
- Pepper spray: Wildlife generally won’t attack unless an animal feels threatened. Making noise is often a sufficient deterrent for most animals, but carrying protection can help with more aggressive encounters.
- Whistle: Whether you’re trying to alert others of your whereabouts or fend off critters, a whistle can be a useful tool out on the trail.
- Space blanket: While you’ll hopefully never need it, a space blanket can be a lifesaver. Consider carrying one for long treks when getting stranded alone overnight in cold temperatures could endanger your life.
- Extra food and water
Grab A Partner
Exploring trails is more fun with a friend, not to mention that there’s safety in numbers. If you’re running solo, make sure you leave a detailed trip plan with someone before you head out that includes how long you expect to be out on your run. Also, it’s important to stick to popular trails where other people will be around to offer help if you need it.
Be Aware Of Animals
In higher elevations, you may have to watch for bears and mountain lions, while in lower elevations, it could be rattlesnakes, and the gila monster. While the wildlife may not be as diverse (or scary) in your neck of the woods, it’s still important to stay alert—and be prepared for the unexpected.
Invest in a pair of trail running shoes
If you’re going to weave trail running into your life, check out trail running shoes. These shoes are lower to the ground, which reduces the chance of ankle rolls with a high heel. The rugged tread offers better traction on muddy, wet trails. They should fit snug in the heel but have room in the toe box.
After a run in the rain, be sure to wash off the mud on your shoes, and stuff with newspaper or paper towels to dry.