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5 Things to Know Before Trying Out Trail Running


May 17, 2021


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Trail Running

Want to start trail running, but aren’t sure where to begin? Pamela Boucher, kinesiologist with over 12 years of experience in the health field and passionate about outdoor sports such as running, shares what she’s learned as well as the tips she wishes she knew before starting this invigorating sport.

1. Strengthen your lower body

I was getting tired of simply going out running. I was looking for a challenge, I wanted to push myself further. So, I decided to try out trail running.

I realized quite quickly (read this carefully, especially if you’re a seasoned runner with many years of experience) that trail running in the woods is completely different from traditional running.

Trail running does not use the same muscles as traditional running does, nor do you use them in the same way. Muscle toning and building your lower body is often overlooked by people who start doing this sport.

To make your first trail running experiences more enjoyable, I would suggest that you alternate between certain exercises specific to trail running. Start off by running 400 metres and continue with about 15 reps of muscle strengthening exercises. It’s best to aim for exercises that target one side of the body at a time, such as alternating lunges or one-handed planks assisted by a tree trunk. You can feel free to be creative.

Alternating lunges

Tree-trunk side plank

  • Alternating lunges: This movement involves taking one step forward while leaning your body weight toward your leg. Your front leg should be at a 90-degree angle. Your knee should not go beyond your toes and you should support yourself with the heel of the leg you have placed in front of the other.
  • Tree-trunk side plank: Place your hands on a tree trunk on the ground (long enough for your hand to be at the same width as your shoulders). Get into a side plank position. Take the weight off of your left side in order to get a stretch with your right arm. Your body should remain perfectly aligned (your back should be straight and in alignment with your legs) and your hips should be stable (do not turn out your hips).

2. Select your footwear with care: trail running shoes

Your choice of trail running shoes will have a major impact on your comfort level and how much fun you have while out in nature.

When selecting a shoe, make sure it’s the right one for the sport in question.

Comfort is key. Depending on the arch of your foot, you can always go for a cushioned insole.

Personally, I love running shoes by the Saucony brand, offered at SAIL. Their excellent comfort factor, as well as the quality/price ratio and innovative technology literally allow me to perform to the very best of my abilities.

Shop – Men’s Trail Running Shoes Shop – Women’s Trail Running Shoes

3. Measure your performance

Another helpful tip? Pick up a handy tool to help you measure your performance (calories burned, distance, intervals, heart rate, recovery time, etc.) such as an activity monitoring wristwatch.

Setting goals for yourself can also be motivating according to your level of intensity and how invested you are in the sport. You’ll appreciate being able to track your progress from run to run.

Garmin offers great activity monitors with sleek styles and additional features like a GPS, making the brand a reliable option.

4. Run in optimal conditions: Drink water before, during, and after your workout

Good hydration is essential when doing this demanding sport. Remember to keep your muscles well-hydrated so that they can perform better for you. It’s also advised to eat at least 2 hours before your run if you have a fairly stable metabolism. Opt for complex carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, certain fruits and fresh vegetables, etc.

When it comes to drinking water, I would recommend drinking at least 2 hours before heading out. After that, small sips can be taken every 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of your run. Once you’re done, drink as much water as you need to quench your thirst. You may also choose to drink sports drinks (enriched with minerals and carbohydrates), especially if you suffer from hypoglycemia.

Consider purchasing a fanny pack that can hold a water bottle, or even a hydration pack, which will come in very handy during your run.

Shop – Hydration

5. Opt for comfortable clothing

My final, and most important tip is to wear the right clothing. Knowing that your gaze should be approximately at a 45-degree angle from the ground (and about 50 meters ahead of you), it’s important to choose the right cap. It definitely should not obstruct your view.

In addition, you shouldn’t forget to consider the weather. Your future trail running outings will be much more enjoyable.

Have a great run!

Article written in collaboration with Pamela Boucher, kinesiologist.

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