There are many fun and exciting places and ways to run. Each runner has their own running goals, preferences, and style.
For some a quick jog around the neighborhood is ideal. Some prefer to run indoors on a treadmill. But with its popularity growing, Trail Running is enjoyed by more and more adventure runners all over the world.
What is trail running
Trail running is just what it sounds like, running on trails. Most often the trails are hiking trails. They can also be shared with mountain bikers and animals.
But how to know if trail running is right for you
Benefits of trail running
There are lots of benefits to running on trails:
- physical benefits (wide range of muscles in use)
- less impact on your joints (softer surface)
- increased balance (trails are uneven with obstacles)
- emotional health (boost your mood)
There are lots of benefits to running on trails. The most significant advantage may be the scenery. All across the country, there are beautiful trails.
Some wind through the woods, over hills and next to rivers. Others give you a beautiful view of the ocean. Whether you enjoy the fields, mountains, water scenes or the woods, there are trails for you to enjoy.
Another universal benefit of trail running is that it is peaceful. Many trails are in isolated areas, and you may not pass another runner while you’re out.
This can be a downside too because it presents a potential danger. It’s recommended that you run with personal protection spray and even a cell phone. Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you’ll be back.
Trails are often much softer than running on cement, asphalt, and a treadmill base. Dirt and small gravel are natural to run on. However, if the trail is rocky, then you will have to pay careful attention to your footing. You don’t want to sprain an ankle or fall while you’re running.
Where to find trails
Don’t know where to start scanning for trails? National Parks are an excellent place to start. Contact National Parks in your area, or check the alltrails.com to find out if there are trails suitable for runners nearby.
The running trails in Glacier National Park
Montana’s Glacier National Park is an excellent place to run early in the summer. Vegetation blossoms, trails dry out, waterfalls grow, and snowy peaks offer impressive surroundings. An adventurer’s paradise. The Glacier is sure choice to go trail running.
Some of the best trails runs around Glacier National Park are hiking trails rated as easy and moderate. The East side of the Glacier is less crowded but equally scenic than the West side of the park.
On Glacier’s east side, there’s usually a lingering high-elevation snow-pack in early summer, but Glacier’s running routes on lower elevation are typically dry. If you go out in the morning, you can breathe the crisp mountain air.
Is trail running same as ultra running?
Trail running and ultra running, do they always go hand in hand?
No, you can be a trail runner even if your ideal weekend run is only 3 miles instead of ultra distances.
Getting into trail running also does not mean that you need to start practicing for a weekend-long ultra-run race. Traditionally there sure is a link between ultra and trail running – but outdoor trails are for any distance runner.
Obstacles affect your pace
You’ve probably been focused on your pace on your road runs, as watching your speed is often an essential part of road running.
On the trails, you walk, climb, and scramble your way through the path, so forget it. There are uphills and downhills and obstacles, and you may need to step just to be safe. It’s better to take your time where you need to and avoid injuries.
Bring fuel with you
Running on trails means you need to bring fuel with you. There are no shops on trails.
You need to do some planning before heading out, especially if you’re running longer out on the woods.
Check out hydration packs if you’re going to be out for a long time (this running gear round up has some examples as well as tips on hydration).
Navigational skills are equally important if you go for longer runs. Getting lost in the wilderness isn’t exactly what we want to do. Take a trail map with you, and bring your phone, fully charged.
Is Trail Running is Right for You
Trail running is ideal for people who enjoy nature and outdoors. If you like to get out to experience nature then running on trails may be a perfect escape.
If you enjoy variety on your runs, trail running provides that as well. During inclement weather, the paths can become dicey. If you enjoy an adventure and a challenge, then trail running may be your cup of tea. During the winter months, you may want to strap traction devices to your trail running shoes.
Speaking of trail running shoes, if you’re running on rough trails, then you may want to swap your traditional running shoes with shoes that offer more stability and traction.
If you’re a barefoot or minimalist runner, there are a few good minimal trail running shoes on the market.
If you enjoy running, consider adding one trail run to your weekly routine. It’s an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. You’ll experience nature and get in shape at the same time.