Trail Running 101 – Don’t Be Afraid To Give It A Go

Amanda Morgan

If you’re reading this, then there is a good chance that you’ve been thinking about trying trail running. It looks like a lot of fun, but for some reason you don’t think you can do it. It is human nature to fear the unknown but playing it safe is only going to get you so far. It’s time to bust through your comfort zone, take the first step outside of it, and leave it lying in your dust! And here’s why:

  • Trail runners know what it means to run outside of their comfort zones, and it has nothing to do with speed; instead it is the intense feeling of freedom that is experienced while running fearlessly and mindlessly over non-paved and challenging terrain. It’s for experiences such as these that we encourage you to say yes to new adventures on the trails.

 

  • Trail runners are often mistakenly perceived as being tough and abrasive, when in reality you would be hard pressed to find a more welcoming group of people. People who wake up at zero-dark-thirty to go run through mud and puddles can’t help but smile, and you may discover that they are just your flavor of crazy.

 

  • It’s human nature to feel fear, but when it comes to trail running you won’t regret giving it a go. If it’s speed that concerns you, rest assured that all paces are appropriate for the trails. Roots, hills, and mud will make you slow down naturally; even an experienced trail runner will have to slow down over certain sections of trail. Walking is okay too, and is actually a great way to introduce yourself to the trails; ultra-marathoners even use walking uphill as a strategy to prevent burnout during a race. And for ultimate peace of mind, the trail running community has an unwritten rule: “no runner left behind.” There will always be members of your group watching out for you and they will not let you get lost.

 

  • Don’t worry about the distance. You’ll be having too much fun talking and laughing with your new trail running friends to focus on the mileage. Or, maybe you’re feeling a little self-conscious of your body; we don’t think your size or shape determines if you are a trail runner. Things we do care about are a positive attitude, willingness to get out there and put your best foot forward. We want you to succeed.

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to come out and run trails with us, let’s cover a few gear requirements. Don’t think that you need to spend lots of money on trail-specific shoes; regular running shoes will work too. Long socks or pants are always a good idea on trails with tall grass or heavy vegetation, and some runners find gloves useful on trails that may require a little climbing and gripping. A hydration pack isn’t necessary over shorter distances, but as you progress in mileage you may want to consider investing in one.

Amanda's first trail run with WOOT - May 2015

Amanda’s first trail run with WOOT – May 2015

Get ready to fall in love with trail running. You’ll run through places you never expected. Use the varied terrain that trail running offers as an opportunity to explore the history, culture, and foliage of where you are in the world (imagine epic selfies). Running on trails also disconnects you from the stressors of everyday life. Shut-down, unplug and leave the headphones at home. There is no WIFI on the trails, but it promises a better connection. There’s no better feeling than the dirt under your feet, a smile on your face and sweat on your brow. The trail will connect you with your own strengths, incredible friendships (maybe you’ll meet your best running friend), and the power of nature. It frees you from your comfort zone and connects you with the amazingly strong woman that you are.

Now, imagine your life a year from now. Do you see a beautiful mountain top? Do you see yourself looking out on the horizon with a buff around your neck, a hydration vest on your back and mud-caked trail shoes on your feet? One action can change your life; so what are you waiting for? Take a leap into the unknown and be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. You are your biggest critic, so get out of your head and stop thinking “I can’t.” Clear some space in your closet for several pairs of running shoes (the addiction is real) and start saving your pennies for a runcation (like a race on The Great Wall of China). Starting something is the first step to being good at something and you only fail when you stop trying. See you on the trails; it’s time to get dirty!

One year after her first trail run with WOOT  and Amanda is seen here at mile 3 of the Great Wall of China half marathon!!!

One year after her first trail run with WOOT and Amanda is seen here at mile 3 of the Great Wall of China half marathon!!!