My number tip for moving to trails from road running is slow down. Your pace will probably be slower, don’t get frustrated if your numbers are different than road pace!
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2.Ditch the Ear Phones
It’s a big argument about music, but if you are new to trail running I would advise against music. There is much to hear out there in nature, you might be sharing trail with other runners or horses or mountain bikers that you need to hear around a curve or tree to make a judgement call.
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I do wear earbuds most of the time, even on trail. But at a race, or an area with mountain bikers-like Mohican State Park-I only wear one earbud, and the sound is turned very low.
3. Prepare to Get Dirty
A trail runner usually comes home with a bit more dirt and cobwebs than the usual road runner. Bring a change of clothes and socks and shoes for the drive home.
4.Stay in the Moment
I was sitting on the trail, on the Island Lake Trail, eating smoked almonds for lunch, just savoring my view. I noticed a marmot had come out of his hole, and was travelling back and forth. He declined to have his picture taken, just like my dogs. It was a pretty special moment, just sitting in the sun, looking at the mountains, and just basking in the moment.
5. Don’t forget the bug spray!
You may get bit by little critters more in the woods than on a road. Bug Spray can definitely be your friend.
6. Look up every now and then
Sometimes trails will lead you to gorgeous views that roads don’t lead to.
7. Savour the surfaces
A nice feature of trail running is the different surfaces. You might run from dirt, to rocks, to mud, to puddles, back to soft pine needles in the same mile.
8. Walk the hills
Unless road races, it’s pretty acceptable in trail races and running to walk the hills. (Back to number one point on slowing down..)
One of my first technical (read rocky) trails was in West Virginia, on the North Fork Mountain Trail.
I had NEVER been on such rocks before. I had never felt so slow before. I really did not have an enjoyable time on that run. But I went back the next year, and now I really LOVE running over rocks-hence my fascination with the Massanutten Mountains.
Even if you have a tough first experience, try again. The next run might be “smoother” or you might just need a little adjustment to new surfaces.
10. Enjoy nature!
Once I found trails there was no going back to roads for me. Sure, I do run roads still, and enjoy nature while road running, but I just found it so much more satisfying going into the woods and just get surrounded with the sights, sounds and textures of nature!