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The Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running

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Whether you’re stuck in a running rut, bored by your neighborhood routes or just plain hate the treadmill, it might be time to leave the road behind and head to the trails. And you won’t be alone: Millions of runners across the globe have already discovered an all-natural running high in the great outdoors. But fresh air and tranquillity are only a few of the reasons people are running away from the busy streets and into the wild woods.

The Benefits of Trail Running

“Trail running burns 10 percent more calories than road running.”
Compared to hitting the pavement, trail running burns 10 percent more calories, while improving balance and agility. Runners get a tougher workout because the uneven terrain demands more lateral movements (think dodging branches and avoiding rocky patches) that keep the core engaged. Trail running also works different muscles with every step, while a shorter stride strengthens ankles and hips and reduces the impact on joints. Many runners, even at the highest level, incorporate trail running into their training to prevent overuse injuries.

But endurance runner Ian Sharman, a trail running expert, certified NASM personal trainer and USATF coach, says trail running is also about adventure. “I first got started with trail running in 2004 when I saw Marathon of the Sands, a documentary about racing in the Sahara Desert,” says Sharman, who wasn’t even a runner at the time. “I called up a friend, convinced him to train with me, and 18 months after seeing the film I ran the Marathon des Sables.” Sharman has since completed more than 180 marathons and ultramarathons, most recently winning the gruelling 2013 Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run.

How to Get Started

If you’re ready for an adventure of your own, follow Sharman’s lead as he shares some of the best tips beginners should know before hitting the trails. We’ll cover everything from gear to etiquette to conquering those hills — and how to stay safe every step of the way.

1. Blaze a Trail

You don’t have to trek into a deep, dark forest to begin. “Trail running includes anything that is off-road and away from paved surfaces,” Sharman says. “It could be as simple as a bike path or just running in the grass, dirt or sand.” Beginners can get started on flat terrain, perhaps with a cross-country run in…. Read more…

A great article from Emily Faherty / Life.

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