Trail running can be more rewarding than the monotonous alternative: running on pavement or a treadmill. Whether it’s through a forest at sunrise, up a steep mountainside, or next to a pristine alpine lake, trails have a soothing effect while you run. But, before you go, follow these handy tips that will not only make your running more enjoyable, but make sure you run for years to come.
Say it with us: Hydration, hydration, hydration. This is particularly important if you’re running in the higher altitudes. If you’re not properly hydrated, then your body can’t cool itself properly and your performance is compromised. Not to mention your health since heat stroke is a very real danger for trail runners. Carry at least 1–2 liters depending on your distance and be sure to hydrate before and after your run.
Choose Your Armor
Running pants with nifty little pockets for your cell phone or iPod are all the rage. But more important than wearing clothes with nifty pockets is making sure that your clothes are well ventilated, comfortable, and make you feel powerful. Your clothing directly effects your confidence, so if you’re slipping into something that makes you feel attractive and invincible, you’ll likely have a better run.
Stretch for Success
Simply put, if you neglect to stretch, you risk injury. Be sure to stretch out those hamstrings, IT bands, and even those glutes before and after every run.
Get Your Groove On
Music not only makes a run more enjoyable but can increase your performance by pumping you up, encouraging you to go faster and harder with each crescendo. Check out our kickass outdoor playlist for some songs to add to your iPod.
Always Leave a Note
Whether you’re running near your home or off in the wilderness, leaving a note, shooting a friend a text message, and just generally letting someone know where you are and when you’ll be back is a good habit to get into. You know, in case a mountain lion decides to join you for your morning jog.
Mind Those Knees
When you run, your precious knees take a pounding. Which is why it’s extremely important to take care of them with proper stretching, diet, and rest. Eat foods that reduce inflammation such as leafy greens and cucumbers. Aloe Vera juice is also excellent for lubricating joints. Squatting regularly can help you build knee strength and certain supplements, such as MSM and Glucosamine have shown promising effects for knee pain (though preventative measures are always better than reactive ones.).
Spice Things Up
Variety is the spice of life, so don’t forget to practice it when choosing your trails. Doing the same, old, boring run every morning can kill your running mojo and, to that, we say no bueno.
Don’t Forget a Little R and R
Rest and relaxation are every bit as important as your diet, hydration, and stretching. If you push your body too hard, it will turn on you in the form of shin splints, cramps, runner’s knee, and more severe injuries such as meniscal tears. You ran 6 miles, 5 days in a row?! Good for you! Now park your bootay on the couch and catch up on some Walking Dead.
Stop and Smell the Roses
The best part about trailrunning is that, unlike the gym, you can commune with nature. In place of electronic machines and iron weights, you are surrounded by the lush greenery of our earth, the painted sky, and abundant views. Don’t take them for granted. Stop to admire that sunset, laugh at the bickering squirrels, and splash that water on your face from the mountain brook. These are your rewards for a trail run, so embrace them.