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.
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.