Trail Running Tips for Beginners

| Fitness

Fall is here and that means perfect running weather. Take advantage of the crisp days to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the changing colors! Whether it's the beaten path or a trail you haven't explored yet, get outside and enjoy the season using these tips from Self.

trail running

Buy Shoes Made For Off-Road Running: Investing in trail shoes means you'll protect yourself against bruised feet and stubbed toes, and experience fewer twisted ankles and slippery falls. "Road running shoes don't have the ankle support, sole and toe protection, or the grip of a good trail shoe," says Lesley Paterson, 2012 and 2011 XTerra World Champion.

>> Not sure which shoes to wear for your workout? Find out here.

Be Realistic: Know that "your speed is going to be slower on the trails than it is on pavement," says Dimiry McDowell, co-author of Run Like A Mother and Train Like A Mother. "The terrain is more rugged, and usually has more inclines. Count on your average pace per mile slowing down anywhere from one to two minutes—or more if you're climbing significantly. If you've got a five-mile run on a training plan, and that normally takes you 45 minutes, don't go for five miles on the trail. Instead, just run for 45 minutes."

Focus On Your Middle: Core training will strengthen your abdominals, lower back muscles, hip flexors and oblique muscles to increase stability and power when running over uneven terrain, says Paterson, who focuses on core work for six minutes a day. "A strong core is also critical to maintain your running form when fatigued," she says, "and stops your body from getting too beaten up by the jarring and jumping that comes from running off-road."

Ease In: Start on a trail that has a technical level you feel comfortable with. "First try running on fire roads or double tracks, before you hit the single track and steep hills," says Paterson. "This helps build confidence. Most state and regional parks have free trail maps with the difficulty of each trail listed."

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