Four Tips for Your First Trail Run

If you’ve never gone on a trail run before, it can seem like a daunting task. Running through winding paths and over tricky terrain is much different than cruising on flat, smooth pavement. But fear not, Coach Nate has four tips to help you handle your first trail run like a pro.

1. Do your research

If you’re venturing outside of your normal running routes, it’s always helpful to do some recon. Plan your trail running route, research the terrain, and check the weather beforehand. This can help you decide what shoes to wear, how much water to bring and how much time to set aside for your run. You can scope out the trail ahead of time using Strava or AllTrails.

2. Run for time instead of distance

Running on trails is typically much slower than running on the road, thanks to hills and technical terrain. However long your planned route is, it will likely take more time to cover the miles on the trail than it would on the road. Don’t get caught up in the pace on your watch, instead focus on effort. When in doubt, a time based out and back will make your first trail experience a positive one.

3. Be safety conscious

Bring along a friend for some fun-filled trail adventures. If you can’t find anyone to run with you, tell a friend where you’re going and how long you plan to be out for. Bring extra water and an extra snack, and don’t forget to apply bug spray and sunscreen. Bring a map of the area on your phone, which will be helpful in case you get lost. You may not have cell service while you’re out on the trail, so be sure to download the map on your cell beforehand.

4. Wear the right gear

If you’ve done your research, you’ll have a good idea of what terrain to expect on the trail. Wearing running shoes that match the terrain will help you run more comfortably and confidently. Trail shoes have bigger lugs and grippier outsoles than road shoes, helping you run smoothly over varied surfaces. They’ll protect your feet while you run over roots, rocks and other debris. For runs that cover both roads and trails, it’s helpful to have a shoe that can do everything, like the new Altra Outroad.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to get a dynamic warm-up in before your run!

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