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5 Tips for Trail Runners

May 4, 2013

I love Spring and Summer in Seattle because the trails start to dry out and the temperature is perfect to head toward the hills and enjoy any one of the zillion trail systems that can be found within an hour drive of Seattle. If you haven’t gotten a chance to go out and run on the trails (either on the mountains or next to any of the lakes) you should while the weather is amazing.
Here are some tips I’ve learned from running the Evergreen Trail Running Series over the last 3 years. I hope they help you in your trail running endeavors.

5 Tips for Trail Running

#5: Know your route and plan ahead

I mean this two fold. First off, plan your route ahead of time so you have a general idea of the distance that you’re going to be going and the elevation changes to expect. It’ll pay off so you’ll know if that first big hill is the only hill or if the route you’ve chosen is rife with elevation gain/loss so you don’t expend too much energy right off the bat. Second, planning ahead by using either the trail guide maps or online mapping guide like Map My Run, DailyMile, etc, will give you an idea of amenities nearby. Is there a place to stop and get water. Is there a bathroom on the route/trail. How close is the area to park to the trail head… etc.
Before you go out and run, know where you’re going and bring the right supplies with you.

#4: Listen up and communicate accordingly

There aren’t a lot of rules to trail running, with that being said, don’t be “THAT PERSON” out on the trail. If you decide to listen to music, keep the volume down and only use one earbud so you can hear others who are out on the trail. One of the great things about the Seattle trail system is that they are chalked full of mountain bikers, horses (and their riders), families and potentially pets, as well as other runners. Make sure you hear conversation around you both in terms of the verbally spoken as well as animals.
Also make sure you know how to communicate as you run. If you’re going to pass someone, call out which side you are passing them on. “To the Right” and then step out and go around them quickly. Watch for others who have the right away on the trail.

#3: Watch the trail 10 – 15 feet in front of you

Don’t spend too much time looking at the amazing scenery around you. You’ll find that there is a great chance you’ll trip on a root and take a great spill. I try to concentrate on the trail 10-15 feet in front of me to plan where to place my feet as I’m running and prepare for roots, loose rocks, fallen trees, streams and mud. If you’re running in a group it’s common courtesy to stay two to three strides behind the runner in front of you.

#2: Point your toes slightly outward on the downhill

I twist my ankles or at least attempt to twist my ankles at least once every time I hit the trail. By remembering to point your toes out as you go downhill you’re less likely to twist them and it will help you keep steady as you increase your speed.

#1: The runner going downhill has the right of way

Last but not least, the runner going downhill has the right of way. Watch them because they might be slightly out of control and less likely to stop or get out of your way. If you’re trying to pass another runner and you see someone coming downward YIELD to the runner coming down the hill. It’s also why we call out when we’re passing so that if someone is coming around the corner they’ll know we’re there and they can be prepared!

Happy Trail Runs!


From → Trail Running

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