Whether it's the draw of fall foliage, a new scene or the adventure of a new challenge, trail running can be an appealing alternative to add variety to your fitness routine.
According to the Outdoor Foundation, more than 8 million people have taken up the trail running trend – a 26.4% jump in three years. But before you venture on the trails for an easy jog or a trail race, keep these trail running tips into consideration.
Safety Tips For Trail Runners
Let someone else know where you are running and when you anticipate returning if you are running in an isolated location or if you are running alone. Carry an ID and bring your cell phone, enabling your location settings.
If there are bikers on the trail or you will run when it is dark, consider a vest with LED lights which will be more visible than light reflectors.
Know Your Trails
Plan ahead and learn about the trails and terrain before you begin your run. State parks and hiking and trail running sites often include descriptions of the terrain and length of trails. Don't attempt routes you are not conditioned for, and be mindful of trip hazards while on the trail.
Pack Water And Nutrition
Nutrition is key. Shorter runs may only require water, but the longer you run, the more likely you will need an electrolyte drink or snacks.
Purchase a comfortable running belt or vest so you don't change your running form by holding heavy drinks.
Build Distance Slowly
Increase volume slowly. Regardless of running surfaces, the highest injury rates for runners tend to occur when training duration or intensity increases quickly. Consider only adding 10% more volume per week to minimize overuse injuries.
Strength Training And Flexibility Matters
Trail running is an excellent way to improve your endurance, but having a diverse training program that includes strength training and flexibility will help you maintain better overall health and may even improve your running ability.
Be Mindful Of Injuries
Be cautious about pushing through an injury. While a little soreness can be a normal part of exercise, there are some injuries that need rest.
If pain is mild, it improves as you run and it doesn't hurt with daily activities, you can consider continuing to run.
If pain is severe, causes a limp, or hurts even when you are resting, you are likely to benefit from seeing a sports medicine physician.
Train, Compete And Recover Like A Pro
Sports medicine can benefit athletes of all ages. Download your free guide or request an appointment today.
Carly Day, MD, a member of Franciscan Physician Network, is Head Team Physician of Purdue University. In that role, she oversees all aspects of medical care for more than 500 student-athletes at all 18 Purdue intercollegiate athletics programs: football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, men's and women's golf, women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track & field/cross country, women's volleyball and wrestling, as well as the spirit squad.
By Carly Day, MD
Sports medicine physician for Purdue University and Franciscan Health Lafayette East