Maybe you are thinking about making the transition from road running to trail running. Starting something new can be intimidating and bring lots of questions. As trail running grows and welcomes over new athletes that previously have only experienced road running/racing, there are some points that are worth clarifying to make sure the transition from pavement to path is mentally as easy as possible.
1. It is okay to walk.
Trails aren’t usually flat. There will be hills, there will be mud and rock, and there will long days. It is okay to walk. You will certainly not be the only person doing so. With time, your muscles and aerobic system will get used to the new demands of the trail, and you will find that you adapt to the terrain.
2. It is okay to go slower than you are used to.
Again, it is okay to toss your road times out the window. Straight city blocks will be replaced with rolling, rocky, switchbacks. You’ll probably want to slow down to take in the view from time to time as well.
3. Your form won’t be perfect when you start, and that is okay.
If you are used to roads and sidewalks, it will take some recalibration to get used to uneven footing, softer ground, rocks, sand, mud, and rapid incline changes. Here are some general form tips to follow to keep moving safely.
4. Come as you are.
You don’t have to be a supermodel to be out here. If you don’t have a team jersey and matching race kit, you’ll be perfect. Wear your old sweat stained shirt with last week’s nose drippings on it. Things are going to get muddy and dusty, and perhaps gross.
5. Your story is welcomed.
The stories of how people wound up in trail running are pretty phenomenal. It takes some kind of story or some kind of lasting push to wind up in the sport. The community understands this, and it makes it all the easier to find new friends with each mile.