How to Hit the Trail Running this Fall

That nip in the air, the smell of wood smoke, the sat­is­fy­ing crunch of leaves underfoot—fall trail run­ning is a great way to wel­come the sea­son. Here’s what you need to know.

autumn fall trail run

Step Up with The Right Footwear
Trail con­di­tions can change quick­ly, espe­cial­ly at high alti­tudes. To stay sure­foot­ed, you need to lace up in the right shoes. Look for a pair with wide­ly spaced lugs. These allow your shoe to release mud and oth­er fall debris more easily.

If you know you’ll be in damp con­di­tions, con­sid­er a shoe with a water­proof lin­er. In dri­er con­di­tions (crisp and cool, not squelchy and mud­dy) for­go the water­proof­ing, as it lim­its the breatha­bil­i­ty of your shoe.

Know How to Stretch in Cool­er Weather
Chilly weath­er caus­es your body to tense and tight­en. Overzeal­ous­ly stretch­ing before you get the blood flow­ing can cause pulls or strains. Pri­or to your stretch, warm up with a light, low-impact walk or jog to help thaw those cold muscles.

Keep your cir­cu­la­tion going with dynam­ic stretch­es, like leg rais­es and jump­ing jacks.

Have a Nice Trip, See You Next Fall
Sea­son­al changes mean new chal­lenges in your path. Be famil­iar with any autum­nal obstruc­tions your route might present. Vision-obscur­ing mist, frost, and slick patch­es of damp leaves can make nav­i­ga­tion tricky.

Know­ing what to expect and stay­ing aware of your sur­round­ings is the first line of defense. If pos­si­ble, use reg­u­lar­ly main­tained, well-trav­eled trails. The more traf­fic they get, the clear­er they are like­ly to be of trip hazards.

Some trail run­ners, espe­cial­ly those going far­ther off the beat­en track, also use cram­pons to get the best grip on the trail.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
It becomes easy when it’s chilly out to for­get about hydra­tion needs. Sweat evap­o­rates more quick­ly when it’s cold, mak­ing it eas­i­er to assume you haven’t lost much flu­id, and you’re like­ly to feel few­er out­ward signs of thirst. Plus, who looks for­ward to a cold bot­tle of water on a frozen late fall morning?

But your body still needs this refresh­ment to func­tion at an opti­mal lev­el and help you avoid injury or illness.

Aim for six ounces of water per twen­ty min­utes of exer­cise. Con­sid­er pur­chas­ing a bot­tle with ounce mark­ers to help you to track your intake.

Adjust Mileage Expectations
It’s okay if you’re putting in less dis­tance on the trail than you would on paved road. Trail run­ning offers more resis­tance and more obsta­cles in gen­er­al. The turn to cold­er tem­per­a­tures adds to these chal­lenges. Don’t push your­self to the point of injury try­ing to main­tain your warm weath­er speed and distance.

Avoid Dam­ag­ing Trails 
Trails that are mud­dy, frosty, or leaf-obscured are more sen­si­tive to the strain of con­stant foot use. While some trails are main­tained year-round, oth­ers are ded­i­cat­ed for use dur­ing spe­cif­ic sea­sons. Pay atten­tion to and be respect­ful of trail rules and do your part to keep them in good condition.