Transitioning from Road Running to Trail Running
Is Trail Running a Whole New Ball Game?
We recently posted a video on facebook promoting our XTERRA Socal Trail Run Series and one person made a comment that struck me: “I cannot trail run. That is a whole new ball game.”
After producing trail runs for over ten years, we’ve heard this a lot from runners of all skill levels. Trying something new can be intimidating and sometimes we make things harder and more unreachable than they really are. Perhaps we can demystify the thought that trail running is an entirely new sport that deviates from running in general.
Because our passion is running on any terrain – whether it be dirt, cobblestone or pavement, we encourage all runners to expand their running experience. Our hope is to get just one of you to squash your hesitancy toward trail running and take your shoes to the dirt! Here’s why:
Get off the Beaten Path: Trail running is the perfect excuse to go on an adventure. Seek out new trails in search of some of the most spectacular views nature has to offer.
Extend your Community: If you are already a runner you know that you just can’t beat the support and comradery of the running community. Some of our best friends and memories are rooted in this community. Just know that the trail running community will be an extension of this already amazing community.
Enhance your Running Escape: There is no doubt that one of the best benefits of running is that feeling of escape. Trail running takes it to an entirely new level. All of your senses will be stimulated with fresh air, soft breezes, beautiful scenery, and solitude.
Are you interested yet? We asked our XTERRA Trail Run Ambassadors to provide their tips and tricks about trail running and here’s what they had to say:
Slow Down: “You have to know that your pace will be significantly slower than on the road. It’s okay to power hike up the tough hills,” said XTERRA SoCal Ambassador, Freddy Luis.
Training is Optional: If you are already running a few times a week in the city or just outside your door, there is no reason why you can’t find a good beginner trail run to embark on during your weekend run. Just make note of the first tip and slow down. Part of trail running is enjoying nature. Here’s another tip: If you want to do a trail run and can’t train much in the trails, sign up anyway for a smaller distance and leave your pace time expectations at the starting line. “I run a four mile run twice a week and every now and then I sign up for a 5k trail run without really training on the trails. Sure, the trails are a bit harder but totally doable. I love the new experience and all the crisp mountain air!” said Michelle Lindner.
Looking for a good introductory trail run in Southern California? Here are a few good ones:
- Griffith Park to Mount Hollywood is an excellent trail run for newbies to train on.
- The Temescal Canyon Loop is another great one, and only 1 mile from the ocean!
- Ready to race? Try the XTERRA Malibu Creek 6k. The single track and fireroad trails make this one ideal for beginners.
For the Competitive Runner, Training is NOT Optional: For runners that really like to compete, take note of what our XTERRA SoCal Ambassadors have to say:
Train by Time not Hours: “A 60 mile week on the road might take someone 6 hours but a 60 mile week on the trails could take 12 hours,” said XTERRA Ambassador, Sean Reid. “Focus on how many hours per week you train, as opposed to how many miles.”
Prepare for the Terrain: Some trails are fairly flat and smooth, others feel more like intense obstacle courses, and that’s what makes it fun! “You’ll have to adjust your pace with the terrain in mind. Embrace hills and climbing, enjoy your surroundings, but also focus on your footwork. Start with easier trails or fire roads before getting on technical single tracks or rocky terrain,” said XTERRA SoCal Ambassador, Marianela Chow.
Leave your Ego at the Starting Line. “If you stress about pace in road running you may be sadly surprised that your averages can be way off compared to road running. It’s humbling at first and some type A competitive racers may get their ego’s bruised,” said Chow.
Enjoy the Quiet: A lot of runners enjoy the use of headphones. We think it’s best if you ditch the music and slip into the tranquility of nature. Running in nature might just be the most enjoyable part of transitioning from pavement to dirt. “Train yourself to run trails without music. The peacefulness of the outdoors is worth taking in,” said Luis.
Meditation Unplanned: If traditional meditation makes you go stir crazy, trail running might just be the answer! “I find that a successful trail running session completely puts me in the moment in a focused yet relaxed state, and with a risk of sounding cheesy, it feels like meditation in motion. Go out there and have a fun!” said Chow.
There’s no doubt about it, running of any kind offers exceptional benefits both physically and mentally, so why not be adventurous and take your shoes to a local trail!
Ready to tackle your first trail race? Check out TRAILRACE.COM for courses for both beginners and experienced athletes!