Trail Running it to the next Level

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.
Run BallaratYou’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 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 run.

Some of you may never consider the trail rung on that running ladder, and that’s ok.  You do what interests you.sk-watson-26

I know for me 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 on running on granite sand & single lane tracks over roads.

Grampians-Fyans-Creek-TrailTrail 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 to road running, and here are a few things to consider before you decide to hit the trails.

Forget Time

trail-forget-timeDon’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 the time. It’s about enjoying your surrounds and the experience. This makes your workout harder because along with running you need to deal with balance and agility.

Which all comes down to terrain.

Terrain

Your run on a trail will be much slower than on the road because of the terrain.

Natural terrain and unforeseen obstacles will force you to slow down.

Also, just because you have ran that particular track before doesn’t mean it will be in the same condition the next time you will run it.

Grampians-shinglebackExpect the following on any trail:

  • Hills or Mountains
  • Rivers / Creeks / Lakes / Oceans and even waterholes
  • Mud – thick, thin and or sinking
  • Sand
  • Rocks of various sizes
  • Fallen trees / branches of various sizes
  • Fierce Animals

All these elements will have an impact on your time as well.

Yes you will have to walk because of them.

Here is a trail run I did recently.  You can tell where I walked, and where I ran.
Grampians-trail-elevation

Be prepared

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.

salomon-hydration-vestWhen it comes to longer 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.

Have Fun

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.