Transitioning from Road to Trail

Apprehensive about switching from the pavement to the dirt? Press on with confidence with these tips!

There are benefits to running on both the road and the trail. If you have yet to try trail running or are somewhat nervous about setting foot on the trail, these tips will help prepare you so you can benefit from trail running too!

How is Trail Running Different from Road Running?

If you run on pavement, chances are you have a couple routes you frequent when getting a workout in. You also may have grown bored of looking at the same things or feeling the same at the end of a run. Most pavement is on flatter terrain, which keeps your fitness level at a certain point without challenging you much.

Trail running is tougher, as there are more uphill and downhill treks. You may have to be a little more agile too, navigating around tree stumps, streams, rocks or perhaps even some wildlife. Trails can change from day to day with new challenges and obstacles which can enhance your workout. At the end of a workout, you may feel different depending on your path for the day. You could feel strong, prepared, defeated or weak.

Weather conditions and views change during trail runs. Challenges keep you awake. Trail running can keep your training fresh while expanding your options and giving you some beautiful ever-changing scenery along the way.

Enough with the convincing of why you should try trail running – here’s how.

Release your expectations. It is a good thing to be eager to begin a new workout but be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. To avoid burnout or injury, start out with an open mind and no expectations.

Begin with a mileage you are familiar with. Maybe even drop down a mile or two from your normal distance because the trail can be a bit more challenging. Your run volume is going to take more effort and time to take on.

Expect increased muscle soreness as well due to increased technical stepping and elevation changes.

Also, forget your paces. Your moderate effort pace will undoubtedly change when you set foot on the trail due to the aforementioned hills and obstacles. Simply allow your general level of effort to guide you as you propel forward.

Run at a pace that is comfortable. Keep in mind that your pace may change to match the portion of the trail that you are on. Over time, you will gain a better understanding of your pace on trails and how and when to push your speed.

Enjoy the run. Although the switch can be tough, it is so rewarding. The challenge of trail running will equip you to be a stronger runner. And while being challenged, enjoy the beauty of nature away from all of the regular distractions of life. No stop signs or lights, no cars, no polluted air, and minimal people. A trail is a place where you can focus on yourself and your goals, surrounded by beauty and with minimal distraction.