Hit the Trails!

January 28, 2010

Tired of running the same routes?  Need a new running challenge?  Want to add some variety to your training?  Spice up your running by trading in the ashpalt for some dirt.  Trail running can provide fresh, interesting, and challenging elements to your runs that may be just what you need to keep improving.  Besides running on peaceful trails and being one with nature, the change in the terrain provides great cross training benefits that will help you strengthen muscles that running on the roads or treadmill won’t.  Follow these guidelines to trail running bliss…

  1. Feed your shoe habit.  Many runners that train regularly on trails often wear trail running specific shoes.  While not necessary, trail running shoes provide more grip, and support to account for the more rugged terrain.
  2. Know your route.  While exploring new terrain is half the fun of a trail run, make sure that you stay on marked trails or are on a well-traveled route.  Just like running on the road, pay close attention to your surroundings, and make notice of specific points of interest or markers on the trail, so that you can find your way back easily.
  3. Avoid twisted ankles.   Pay special attention to the terrain and where you are stepping.  Trails are full of tree stumps, stones, and animal holes, which can wreak havoc on the ligaments in your ankles.  Just like you pay attention for cars while running on the road, pay special attention for nature’s obstacles on the trail.
  4. Time flies when you’re trail running. Six miles on the trail takes a lot longer than six miles on the road.  It will take time to get used to pacing on trails, so in the beginning don’t time your miles.  Run for an hour, without accounting for the miles, or run for distance, without accounting for the time, until you get a hang of how to pace on the more challenging terrain.
  5. Stay on the beaten path. Some trail systems go through nature preserves and bird sanctuaries, where running is prohibited.  Be aware of these special areas, as not to disturb fragile ecosystems.
  6. The more the merrier.  It is always a good idea to run trails with a friend or training partner, in case you get lost, or an injury occurs.  When running trails, always be sure to have some extra fluids and energy bar with you, in case of an unforeseen emergency.
  7. Admire from a distance. You are entering the home of deer, bears, etc.  Leave animals and natural habitats as undisturbed as possible.  Enjoy the natural beauty of the trails as an observer.


Elyse devotes her time to her two passions:  running and spreading the love of running to athletes of all levels.   She is the President of the Washington Running Club, the Head Coach of the North Face Endurance Challenge, a coach for Weight Watchers and leads the run club at lululemon Athletica.  And for the tween set, Elyse coaches  for Girls on the Run.