Transitioning from City to Trail Running

Unfortunately, here in the cities I spend the majority of my time running on the sidewalk instead of on the trails.  I have been told that trails in the city are available, but I have yet to find, let alone take advantage of them.  Personally, I find trail running to be more enjoyable than running on the concrete.  If given the opportunity, I recommend giving it a try. However, before heading out to a trail there are a couple gear changes you may want to make in order to ensure an enjoyable experience:

New shoes may be the first investment you wish to make when entering the woods for the first time.  Chances are your road shoes will not be meant for the trail, they are often designed to be used on the road and the road only.  The main difference between road and trail shoes is the tread on the bottom of the sole.  Unlike the more flat tread of a road specific shoe, the trail shoes tend to have a more aggressive sole that provides more grip on an unpredictable surface.  This is important because the trails can be in a variety of conditions -muddy, soft, firm, gravel, loose, etc.

Gaiters are, in my opinion, the best friends of a trail runner.  These are small pieces of equipment that prevent debris from entering in the top of your shoe.  This may not seem that important but if you are used to running in the city you may have never experience the frustration of pebbles, sand, sticks, leaves, or dirt from getting in your shoe and irritating your foot.  Gaiters are relatively inexpensive, around 30 a pair, and can be reused over and over again.  Before buying, be sure to check for running specific gaiters.

Although new shoes and gaiters may be the only big changes you will need to make, you may want to make a few small changes as well.  Due to variant light condition of all the shadows in the woods, I prefer to not wear sunglasses.  I often choose to wear a brimmed hat instead, this helps to keep the sun out of my eyes but still allows me to see my obstacles clearly in the shadows.  Long sleeves rather than short sleeves may also be a change you wish to make.  There are many long grasses and weeds next to the trail that can scratch you and the longer sleeves may help to protect your arms.

Trail running is a favorite exercise of mine and I encourage you to give it a try.  It is still possible to wear your road running clothes to the trail but your experience may not be as enjoyable as if you had the proper equipment.  If you give trail running a try for the first time or you’re an avid trail runner, I’d love to hear from you, just send a tweet to either @TeamBurdick or @BeastSports.

Jack Burdick is majoring in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and along with hisweightlifting workouts, he competes in marathons and ultra-marathons (50 mile races) and is looking to earn a Cross-Fit title or to be recognized with The World’s Fittest Man title which is reserved for an ultra endurance power athlete.