blog What is Trail Running?

What is Trail Running?

TJ Ferrara

6 months ago

The past few years have reignited our imagination of the outdoors. How can we push our limits without a gym to go train? How do I stay in shape when normal routines are disrupted? How do I push my body to grow and develop stronger despite changing circumstances?

The great outdoors is a natural answer to these questions, especially when trying to challenge ourselves to new things. Those of us who have a tried and true treadmill routine or course around the local neighborhood may be looking for something that pushes the mind and body to new endurance feats.

Insert: trail running. A hybrid blend of road running and hiking, trail running pushes the athlete out of their comfort zone and into a new environment filled with an ever-changing terrain to discover. For those looking to switch up their workout routine and enjoy running, it may be time to hit the trails.

What is Trail Running?

As stated above, trail running is a mix between regular running on roads and hiking. Mixing skill with terrain, trail running requires balance, focus, and agility normally taken for granted on a regular run. Trail running can occur on different terrains - be it gravel roads, local park paths, or your favorite hiking trail. The thing that makes it a trail run is that you are off the paved path and embarking on an unexpected adventure.

Road Running vs. Trail Running

While road running may provide the obstacles of avoiding traffic and other people, trail running provides a whole other host of challenges. Obstacles not normally encountered on roads such as roots, rocks, and uphill gradients present themselves as extra challenges on the trails. Trail running normally requires greater endurance and agility as you have to factor in these obstacles that are not on paved paths. As there are more unexpected factors, and trail running occurs in more remote locations, it is important to be prepared when embarking on your first trail run

Benefits of Trail Running

There are many benefits of trail running that are similar to those of road running, however below are a few geared primarily towards hitting the trail:

  1. Improved Balance

    : Due to the change in terrain, your body works extra hard to make sure that it stays balanced during the run. Avoiding roots and challenging yourself over this terrain can improve lower muscle strength as your body compensates for the uneven course.

  2. Happy Joints

    : It’s no secret that pounding pavement can be hard on the joints. If you are someone who loves to run but has a hard time on the road, trails provide a softer terrain and cushions the joints better than pavement so you can have happy, healthy joints.

  3. Mental Sharpness

    : The trail changes from one step to the next. This swift alteration requires your mind to be in tune with your body’s movement with that of your surroundings, promoting mental fortitude as well as physical strength.

  4. Balanced Mood

    : Research shows that spending even small amounts of time outdoors improves our mood. The American Psychological Association states that we are ‘nurtured by nature,’ and there is no better way to reap the benefits of the outdoors than by doing something you love in a beautiful location.

How to Prepare

Unlike a casual neighborhood run, trail running, especially those where the participant is gone for several hours, requires preparation. For those who may be unsure of what to expect on the trail, or need a reminder of what to prepare, read below to follow our guide for a successful trail running experience.

Steps to Success:

  1. Scan the Path

    : All good trail runners know to expect the unexpected, and with this comes being able to scan the terrain 15 to 20 feet ahead. This way, you will be able to know exactly what is coming and encounter any obstacles that may be a part of the trail.

  2. Shorten Steps

    : Another difference between road running is that trails are best run with shorter steps than your normal stride. This increases the runner’s balance and accounts for any changes in terrain. This may also help prevent injuries from uneven trails.

  3. Walk when Needed

    : Do not take it as a sign of weakness. Walking can actually help you build stamina, especially in spots that seem treacherous. Listening to your body and knowing your surroundings ensures a happy and healthy trail experience.

  4. Bring a Buddy

    : Exercise can be social! Finding your fitness motivation, and surrounding yourself with friends on the journey, can be an excellent way to incorporate fun and hard work at the same time.

Things to Bring for a Successful Trail Run

Showing up is half the battle, preparedness is the rest. Read below for our tips on what to bring for the perfect trail running experience.

  • Proper Shoes

    : Trail running requires proper shoes to both prevent injury and to stabilize on treacherous trails. If starting out on gravel roads or well-maintained parks, road running shoes should be fine. However, once you get to hiking trails and steeper terrain, investing in trail running shoes will help you in the long run. Oftentimes good trail running shoes contain extra padding to cushion the impact, along with greater grip that allows feet to latch on to muddy or slippery surfaces. If you are someone who seriously wants to get into trail running, proper shoes are an important investment.

  • Food/Water

    : Depending on how long you are out there, making sure you have enough nutrients to sustain your run is an important thing to consider. Energy bars, along with plenty of water are needed when you don’t know where you can get them next. For longer runs, consider a hydration backpack to store water while you run.

  • Extra Clothes

    : If the temperature changes drastically while you are running, or you change elevation, you may be out of luck. Packing extra clothes in a small runner’s backpack may be something to consider before you begin. Always check the weather and other conditions before embarking on a trail run.

One last thing for your run

For clean, fast-acting energy, consider collagen powder. BUBS Naturals Collagen Protein Powder enhances mental acuteness and restores glycogen, the energy your body needs to fuel its workout. Plus, it comes in convenient pouches perfect for a long run. In the case of trail running where mental sharpness and endurance are necessary, collagen is the perfect energy supplement to take with you on whatever trail is on your path.