As a runner, we all move up and down the running ladder.
At first, the runs start off small.
Then the running bug catches you and slowly those runs get longer and longer.
You’ll do all sorts of distances, and chase the elusive PB (personal best) each time.
Then one day you will feel like you want more. Some of you may dabble in a triathlon or an obstacle race.
Then there are those of you who have no interest in those types of events.
You love running but you just want a change.
That change my friend is the trail running.
Some of you may never consider the trail rung on that running ladder, and that’s ok. You do what interests you.
Trail running was something that interested me early on in my running pilgrimage.
My location of course has something to do with that.
Most of my training runs are in the local state forest on dirt tracks and roads.
The Grampians National Park is also only a short drive for me, with hundreds of miles of tracks to explore.
So it’s safe to say that I have more experience in running on granite sand & single lane tracks over roads.
Trail runs aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. If you are happy with how you are performing on the roads, then stick with what you enjoy. But if you are looking for a change or even a challenge, then definitely give a trail race a go.
Trail running is completely different from road running, and here are a few things to consider before you decide to hit the trails.
Don’t compare your road times to your trail times.
This is really hard for some people to get past. Just because you can run a half marathon in x amount of time, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to run a trail half marathon in the same time frame.
Trail running isn’t about time. It’s about enjoying your surroundings and the experience. This makes your workout harder because along with running you need to deal with balance and agility.
Then it all comes down to the terrain.
Your run on a trail will be much slower than on the road because of the terrain.
The natural terrain and unforeseen obstacles will force you to slow down.
Also, just because you have run that particular track before doesn’t mean it will be in the same condition the next time you will run it.
Expect the following on any trail:
- Hills or Mountains
- Rivers / Creeks / Lakes / Oceans and even waterholes
- Mud – thick, thin and or sinking
- Rocks of various sizes
- Fallen trees/branches of various sizes
- Fierce Animals
All these elements will have an impact on your time as well.
You may even have to walk because of them.
Here is a trial run I did recently. You can tell where I walked, and where I ran.
Whether you are going for a 5km trail run or a 50km trail run always be prepared.
It goes without saying
Always let someone know where you are going and what time you are expected back.
Make it a habit to carry id with you, and where possible your phone.
When it comes to long trail runs, always think of worst-case scenarios.
In my hydration pack, I make sure I have a jacket, my phone, and an ’emergency’ protein bar.
Carry enough water/fuel/food to cover the distance you are covering.
Personally, I make sure I have a surplus of food/water/electrolytes.
There is a reason why on some races there is compulsory gear, so make sure your pack has basics for that ‘just-in-case scenario.
You’ll have fun, skipping, and jumping over rocks, logs, and other obstacles. It really does make you feel like a kid again.
Running the trails will make you enjoy the natural beauty of our land.
So while the trails can be a challenge, you’ll keep coming back to them.
Trail running offers you a sense of adventure. It will make you fitter and stronger.
It offers you the nature experience that road running often cannot.
But most of all I think trail running will make you remember why you love running.