Getting up first thing in the morning, putting on your sneakers and hitting the road for a good run is convenient but running on pavement or concrete can be hard on your joints. Not to mention it can be pretty boring, looking at the same scenery day after day. Running off-road and on trails is easier on your joints, improves your stamina and you don’t have to breathe in car exhaust. However running on a varied terrain has a greater risk of injury so you have to be careful. Here are 5 tips for running off-road.
Start Off Slowly
If you run every day or every other day don’t just go from running on roads to running on trails. Rather start off by going off-road once a week and ease into the change. You will gradually get used to the demands of off-road running, increase the frequency as it gets easier.
Run on Level Ground
This is part of starting off slowly, you want to begin your runs on level terrain and get used to running off-road. Off-road running is filled with obstacles, dips in the terrain, rocks and even branches you have to dodge. Don’t throw hills into the mix right away.
Watch Your Feet
Part of the appeal of running off-road is the beautiful scenery that you get to enjoy along the way. Don’t get so caught up in the scenery you aren’t watching where you put your feet. You still need to watch for obstacles or you could end up on your face.
Focus on Technique
When you run on a track or even on the road you can work to improve your time. Trail running is different and you want to slow the pace and focus more on your running technique, it is even more important here than it is on a track. You won’t be able to find the same rhythm you get when running on a track. This is actually a new skill even if you have been running for years and you may find that you don’t have the same endurance level. Don’t hesitate to slow down or even walk if you need to. A better technique will give you better stamina in the end.
Let Someone Know Where You Are
If you’re not running through a local park with trails that are frequently used then you want to tell someone where you are. Sprained and even broken ankles are a common injury with off-road running. You want to tell someone where you are running, when you plan to be back and take a fully charged phone with you in case something happens.
Trail running is one of the best forms of exercise and it allows you to see some beautiful countryside. Just take it slow and you’ll have some great runs.