While part of the fun and excitement of trail running is getting into better physical shape, there’s also a lot to be said about the Zen of trail running. In other words, spending a few hours in the woods or in the mountains can do a lot to clear your head and relieve any stress or anxiety in your life. So how, exactly, do you become a Zen trail runner?
In many ways, it all starts with getting the right gear. Yes, you can go trail running in the same shoes that you use for regular running on roads and asphalt surfaces. However, the more time that you spend in the outdoors, the more you will realize that you need special trail shoes that have stronger, more protective soles and that are designed for greater stability. In the woods, it’s too easy to trip or fall, given the potential obstacles in your path and the uneven surfaces.
As a rule of thumb, all of the below should be considered “must-haves” for any serious trail runner:
- Rugged clothing that stands up to dirt (in other words, no $100 T-shirts)
- Trail shoes
- Waterproof running socks
- Water bottle
- Insect repellent or bug spray
- Headlamp or flashlight (if you plan on running at night)
- Ice spikes or crampons (if running in ice or snow)
That’s the equipment that you’ll need, but what about equipment that you will no longer need? If you really plan on becoming a Zen trail runner, you’ll need to ditch all of your digital devices. Leave your GPS device at home, skip the music player or headphones, and forget about fitness bands and Apple Watches. Your goal is to become one with nature, and to forget about the world around you. That’s hard to do if you’re constantly getting beeps, reminders and updates from your digital devices.
Now that you’re all set with the right equipment (or lack thereof), it’s time to make a few strategic changes in the way that you run. Become a Zen trail runner is about far more than just WHERE you run – it’s also about HOW you run. With that in mind, you’ll want to integrate the following changes into your trail running routine:
- Shorten your stride – You should focus on running about 20 percent slower on trails than on roads.
- Walk the hills – You will need to conserve your energy, and there’s nothing wrong with walking steep hills on the way up and then running on the way down.
- Constantly scan 5 to 10 feet ahead of you at all times – You never know when you will encounter a rock, a tree stump, or root.
- Always step over, not on, obstacles in your trail path – It might sound unexciting to step over giant tree stumps or other obstacles rather than climbing on top of them, but the rule of thumb is to avoid any potentially slippery surfaces.
- Keep a first-aid kit in your car – You never know what might happen in the woods, and if you get scratched up or fall, you will want a first-aid kit to fix things up.
By keeping all this in mind, you will be well on your way to becoming a Zen trail runner. And remember – you are never alone once you commit to a lifetime of trail running. There are many local trail running groups, as well as area meetups for trail enthusiasts. Especially for beginners, it might make sense to find a running buddy until you become fully familiar with the local terrain.
The Yatta Life community
Yatta Life is building an enthusiastic community of recreationists. These are doers who prefer to get outside whenever they can. They are men and women of action, people who won’t let bad weather get in the way of spending time outdoors. And, most of all, these are recreationists who still manage to find the time to get outdoors with family and friends, no matter what their other commitments in life are.
We’re proud to design gear for these recreationists. We’re excited to hear about their new adventures, and about their new plans for getting outdoors. If you like having fun, if you like hanging out outdoors, and if you are inspired by just looking up at the sky and imagining the world of tomorrow, then you are the sort of person we’re looking to meet. Let’s inspire each other.
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