Tips for the Trail – Trail Running for Beginners
Trail running is quite literally a way to step off the beaten path and forge your own way. Like all adventures, that first step can be a little scary, which is why entering an XTERRA Trail Run can be so helpful.
Brennan Lindner, the race director of the XTERRA SoCal Trail Series says that it’s a mistake to think you don’t belong in an XTERRA Trail Race, even if you are a new runner.
“With XTERRA, you have a well-marked course, water stops, and tons of other runners to help you through it. Plus, by the time you are finished, you will probably have made some new friends and running partners as well.”
Below, Brennan shares his top tips for those new to running with the Tribe.
1. Slow down and take short, quick strides
Shorter strides will give you more stability, making you less likely to fall. It’s OK to slow down on the trails. Enjoy the view, watch your footing, and stay safe.
2. Don't be afraid to walk the hills
Even the really fast runners walk sometimes. Some of the uphills in XTERRA runs are so steep that power walking can be faster than trying to run. Plus, you can catch your breath, conserve your energy, and regroup.
3. Keep your gaze five to ten feet ahead of you
keeping your gaze about a stride-length ahead of you, you can safely navigate through technical terrain by looking at where you want your feet to land. This definitely takes some focus and concentration, so make sure that you are breathing. On easier sections of the trail, you can look farther ahead to keep your eyes open for potential obstacles. Take advantage of these sections of trail by opening up your stride and picking up your pace if it’s comfortable.
4. Keep a distance of 10 feet from other runners
Let’s face it. No one likes someone breathing down their neck or clipping their stride. Stay a respectful distance back from other runners until you have room to pass. Then call out “On your left,” and pass them quickly. Passing is a great opportunity to shout out some encouragement and cheer on your competitors.
5. Watch out for slippery roots and rocks
Never underestimate the trail. Southern California trails tend to be very rocky and you need to watch your footing so you don’t trip. When it rains, this is even more important. Step carefully on roots and rocks that might be unstable and slow down even more if it’s wet.
6. Have fun
Trail running is a blast. Not only will you feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, but you will have so much fun as you watch the miles fly by. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people, and a sense that you are part of a larger adventure always makes for a great morning on the trails. Don’t be afraid to sign up!
Learn more about and register for XTERRA Black Mountain on April 8th.