Preparing for your first trail race

Skipping over the roots and rocks like an elaborate game of hopscotch, trail running is like running’s weird cousin. However, take this as a positive; like every unique family member, they are the life of the party! This is how trail runs pertain to my training schedule. There is something extra zesty about a solid jaunt through the woods. It brings my mind back to the happy place of skiing through the backcountry and so much further.

Intimidated? Don’t be! Running your first trail race will be a blast! Keep these 5 thoughts in mind as you prepare:

Trail runners are often thought of as being more friendly and social than the pavement pounding road runners. 

It is harder to gauge finishing times with the twists, turns, and bumps of the trail. Forcing more runners to approach the race with an open mind, less pressure, and in return more pleasure.

Expect your pace to drop and steps to increase. 

You’re not going to clip at the same speed on the trails compared to the road. Also, remember it gets dark earlier in the woods. Be prepared! Like any other run, bring the appropriate snacks and hydration depending on your planned distance.

Keeping laser focus is the name of the game. 

Beginners are wary of trail running for fears such as rolling an ankle or getting lost in the woods. These things are possible… and you likely will trip… but think about how many more times you could have tripped if you were just mindlessly plugging along. Additionally, most trails are well mapped out and there are numerous resources online to help keep you on track. Worst case scenario, you’ll add some extra miles to your run!

As for shoes, a knobbier tread is preferred. 

When I started to dabble with trail running I would wear old sneakers thinking that I did not care if they got muddy. This was the wrong decision. Old sneakers have worn down treads, giving them a high slip factor and little to no stability.

To help preserve the trails it is proper etiquette to run through puddles. 

If everyone runs around them it will continue to make the trail wider and wider. Mud will spray, and you will embrace it!

Now that the trails have dried up it’s the best time to go explore them. Sign up for your first trail race today or keep your workouts fresh by sprinkling trail running into your training program!

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