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Getting Started With Trail Running: The Bare Necessities

Diet got you stuck on the treadmill? Get somewhere with trail running.
Start living a more active lifestyle full of new people to meet and places to go.
The yet is to be explored!

Do you enjoy the outdoors? There is nothing like hiking and mountain climbing to bring you back to nature. If you enjoy being outdoors, then trail running may be right for you. Trail running is not just exercise, it's a lifestyle. Can you say the same for running around the track? No, not unless you are a hamster. Even if you are one, that doesn't stop you from going out into a world full of surprises. People (and hamsters alike) all around the work have taken up trail running, building their diet and exercise around it. What's stopping you?
The feeling you get from trail-running differs greatly to that of asphalt. Seriously, who wants to have to stop at each light only to be blown away by traffic after the light changes green? In trail running, there are no cars (maybe motorcycles) and everything is green, not just the lights. The pure sensation of soil, branches, and leaves beneath you cushioning your feet is completely different from running along the sidewalk, constantly trying to avoid step between the faces.

Trail running is less of a burden on your legs, allowing you to build strength without damaging your joints. The impact you feel while running on asphalt is harder than that of running on soil. It is said that the impact your feet make while running on soil is as much as 20-30 percent softer than that of asphalt. This gives your body more time to push off impact, giving your legs a stretch, increasing muscular endurance while running.

Trust your instincts. Don't run unless you have to. The trail could get bumpy along the way and could possibly require a quick deter to mountain climbing. In particular, mountain paths that are hilly increase the burden running has on your knees. That is why it is necessary that you improving your leg strength and cardio-respiratory system, gain flexibility and balance, building a balanced core foundation.

To avoid unnecessary injury walking through parts of the trail you are unfamiliar with or feel would have difficulty running is recommended. Walking doesn't mean you are losing time, necessarily. If by running you find yourself tumbling down the mountain like a beginner learning how to snowboard, stop yourself. Walk as much as you can until you've gained enough experience making trail running second nature.

Be prepared for anything

Before starting to even think about trail running, one must be ready face all odds. There are many people who put themselves at risk by going out "alone" without even knowing where they're going. All they know is that they are going to go running in the woods. Although such behavior help use fulfill our primal instincts, before going into the wood, figuring out where your are going and carrying bear spray is a start.

Here's a little something to get your started, the bear essentials of trail running.

Shoes The kind of shoes you want to wear trail running need to be stiff soled to support your feet in case you happen to step on jagged rocks along the trail. Give your shoes a water repellent coating before taking them out. This not only keeps your feet dry, but increases the durability of your shoes, allowing you to wear them longer.
Clothes Wear clothes that fit the occasion (weather) on hot days allowing ventilation, on hold days less, cover up for you skin to avoid potential outbreaks from vegetation, poison ivy, ect.
Water Although you may be thinking that fresh spring water is waiting for you under the rainbow, don't take chances. Bring enough water to get you through each checkpoint, refilling when you get chance.

There are many strategies followed by the greats, which if known can really speed up the learning curve part of things. Running in groups, checking off the (well-maintained) areas you are going to run at, and pairing up with someone experienced are all recommended when just getting started out and on toward you ascension to greatness. Know how far you intend to run and where you plan to rest beforehand is important. Never leave home without knowing that someone has your back. There is no telling what adventures lie await.

You can never be safe enough. In order to protect you from harms way, check things out before hand and be prepared. Are you ready, yet? Alright, let's get going.

Trail running etiquette

After much practice, you may feel its time to step out of your inner circle and see how you hold up with the big dogs, i.e. a race. In a trail running (cross-country) race, you will run along side other runners on the same course just as in any other race. There is a slight chance that the course gets jammed causing you to walk, for safety (goodness) sake.

Be most considerate of other runners. While walking try not to block the trail, taking the sideline and give way to those wanting to pass. Priority is giving to those climbing. Within the trail running community and mountain climbers alike this is understood as the norm. So when you are trail running, put on a smile. Give a shout out to those in front of you before proceeding to pass or pursue them. Letting your fellow trail runner know where you are. These sorts of communication will not only preventing you from spooking other runners, but also can help you make some friends on the way.

In addition, when trail running in the mountains, your cell phone may or may not be able to connect. In the case you aren't able to call out; drifting from the trail alone could possibly leave you in distress. To prevent this from happening, meeting and greeting with other trail runners is recommended.

That is to say that always feeling as if you are running in a group (versus alone) keeps you company and safe at the same time. There's strength in numbers. Getting through the goal together, unifying one hands in friendship, is what saves people.

By Martin Nicholson

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