Trail Running

By: ARYA ROERIG

As the weather gets warmer and spring gets underway, people start to get the itch to play outside. Outdoor activities can add a boost of pep to the end of a long, dull winter and bring new life to a monotonous workout routine, but staying safe while out running or hiking on the trail is not always the easiest thing to do. A few tips on how to stay out of trouble in the great outdoors this warm-weather season.


Water may be the biggest thing to remember when you’re far from home, especially in hotter months or on days of full sunshine. Invest in a CamelBak or a water bottle that’s comfortable to carry and bring more water than you think you will need. Take a sip at least every twenty minutes. Dehydration is shown to be more common outdoors and than indoors. If you start to feel thirsty, you are already starting to dehydrate.


Injuries are also much more common on unpaved trails than on roads and sidewalks. Sprained ankles can be a big deal on rough trails. Even experienced trail runners can get into trouble on unfamiliar terrain. If you can walk on a sprained ankle, move slowly. The best way to treat a sprain is to prevent it. Keep an eye on the ground where your feet land and stay in well-lit areas to avoid accidents. Try to avoid rocks, ice and gravel and stay near dry ground. Strength training has been shown to lessen the chance of ankle sprain as do proper fitting shoes.


Likewise, if you are prone to blisters, make sure your trail shoes fit properly. Nothing will be more unpleasant than being three miles into a run or hike and getting a blister on a hot day. If you do get a blister, keep your shoes on. Blisters are caused by friction. Be sure to leave the skin on and bandage the area with antibiotic ointment.


While road shoes work in a pinch, if you plan to be on unpaved trails more often than not it may be wise to invest in trail running or hiking shoes which have more traction and protect your feet from rocks and roots. Taking shorter, quicker steps can also give you more time to react to unstable surfaces. When running, move with your arms raised to maintain balance.


Depending on where you live, things like snake bites and poison ivy may or may not be an issue. Become versed in your local flora and fauna and know what can sting, bite or itch.


Keeping an eye on the weather is a key to trail work. Especially at higher elevations where temperatures can change quickly. Check out local weather sites that have up-to-the-minute information on changing conditions.


Aside from environmental issues, training in more remote places can pose a larger personal risk. Always tell someone when and where you’re going to run and try to carry a cell phone. It is also safer to avoid using headphones while alone in the woods or while out at night to increase awareness of your surroundings.


Make your next off-road experience the best it can be by being prepared. Check out the National Park Service for maps of national park trails, or plot your route here.  There are also numerous smart phone apps for finding trails in your area.

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Categories: Home, Sections, Your Fitness

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