Trail running has become one of the most coveted disciplines for runners looking for a combination of exercise and escape from the world for a period of time, ranging from minutes to days at a time to blend in with the scenery. Some of the world’s most reputable athletes have managed to elevate trail running in recent years as something completely unique in the world of sports.
Some say that this is an amazingly addictive activity as one feels adventurous, exploratory and above all free to exploit one’s abilities to the frontiers of one’s choice. This includes the ability to improvise new routes and improve technique.
In addition, there are many who say that, after a full day in contact with nature and touching the physical and mental limits, one returns home a better person after being in situations of extreme fatigue. That is why we encourage new trailrunning runners with 5 tips to keep in mind to get started in this exciting and powerful world of endurance, courage and a lot of humility.
1. Understand What Trail Running Is
First of all, it should be made clear that for most trail runners, the main motivation for running is contact with nature, creating a symbiosis between oneself and the environment. However, it is vital to know what we are exposing ourselves to. Running on asphalt has nothing to do with running in the mountains, as the terrain is more uneven.
We recommend a prior stress test on terrain that does not require a lot of technique, but which makes our limitations clear. In this way we will not propose excessive challenges that involve extreme fatigue or injuries that prevent us from enjoying the route.
Once the mind is clear, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the warm-up to tone the joints and ensure optimal fitness and avoid injuries. This will last about 15 minutes and will consist of dynamic stretching and joint movements exaggerating the movement that we will make when we start walking. It can be complemented by applying sports creams and cold baths on the legs to relax muscles, vitamin supplements, etc. Additionally, you can do a light jogging between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the intensity of the race that you have planned knowing your body and your determination.
The mountain is a terrain whose climatology changes capriciously. It is a living, breathing, pulsating entity, and in the face of this, there is little we can do but contemplate and take precautions. It is necessary to have access to the weather forecast and your GPS location before and during trail running.
On the downhills, you have to be aware that you have to secure each step decisively, as the opposite can cost you a bad posture and a sprain. This requires cold-bloodedness and self-confidence, but not too much, since excess often leads to confusion due to lack of concentration, either as falls or disorientation when you least expect it.
We must not forget that, above all, we are here to enjoy the environment and step by step, to enter into symbiosis with nature, to run more for emotions and sensations than for time. We must not be afraid, but we must be very respectful of such forces!
Once the route has been studied and analyzed, the intensity can be measured according to your physical condition. If you are a road runner, it is important to know that it will be very difficult for you to maintain a constant pace in the mountains, you will run more slowly and less steadily. The terrain is uneven, the slopes are much more frequent and steeper. We advise you not to be impatient, do not gallop out the first mile, start jogging gently and move your trunk forward slightly. You will get used to the terrain after each stride you take.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that, unlike road running, trail running needs more fuel, which includes nuts, chocolate, fruit (especially bananas, oranges and quince), the classic energy bars and even sweets.
The priority here is to maintain body temperature and prevent injury and extra fatigue. Today, a smartwatch that measures calories, altimeter and GPS locator is easy to find, but sticking to what has always worked, we recommend the following equipment.
Backpack or fanny pack tight to the body containing a windbreaker, food, water, cell phone, headlamp, first aid kit with ibuprofen for pain and allergy remedies and inhalers as well as a thermal blanket for emergencies. The backpack is one of the most important elements when practicing this sport and it is worth dedicating it criteria.
As for clothing, trailrunning tights and socks are the most common, thicker and more resistant to scratches and bumps, as well as better evacuating sweat in a terrain where staying dry is imperative. The black color ensures a greater absorption of light and heat, so we will be less cold and sweat will help reduce volume, but in case of going to inaccessible and busy areas, it is better to use visible colors such as neon or fluorine.
In spite of everything, the most important thing for the best performance is the shoes. Trail running shoes are essential and have nothing to do with asphalt shoes. Trail running shoes have much more grip on mountainous terrain, more resistance, more durability and, in addition to fit the foot tightly, they must breathe properly.
A tubular scarf can be placed on the wrist to dry sweat in case of heat and in the worst case, as a tourniquet!
Finally, something that seems dispensable but that can save you in any situation. If you know the route and have done it before, you can go alone; if not, it is always recommended to go with someone. Not only for the fact of discovering something together, but also because you will always have a support point when your strength fails you, when you have an accident or simply when you want to talk about something far away from civilization.
Finally, I would like to remind you that, like any sport, the best thing is to overcome oneself and, in this case, to create an enviable face-to-face relationship with nature. Do not fall into the game Road Runner VS Trail Runner, each sport has its virtues and the wise thing is not to define the best for everyone, but the best for you. Enjoy the miracle that is the natural environment, the majesty of the mountains and contemplate the great landscapes that you have been able to access after hours of sweating. You will see how if you look, they will return your gaze.