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Top 6 Trail Running Tips for Getting Started

Trail Running Tips for Beginners

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You may have to hop over rocks and roots, but the benefits of trail running are well worth the effort. Running on uneven terrain burns more calories and helps improve your balance, agility and coordination. Tina Vindum, the author of Tina Vindum's Outdoor Fitness, shared the following six trail running tips to make your transition to the trails a breeze.

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Wear the Right Trail Running Shoes

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If you're going to hoof it on a wood-chip or packed dirt path, your regular running sneakers will do. But trail-running shoes provide more protection for your feet and have lugged outsoles to improve your traction, key for rocky and slippery routes. (For indoor workouts, try a pair of The Best Sneakers to Crush Your Workout Routines.)

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Start Slow and Flat

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Trails work your leg muscles and ankle joints harder than roads or treadmills do, so begin on flatter paths and run for only 10 to 15 minutes during your first outing. Increase your time and/or distance by about 10 percent each week.

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Adjust Your Stride

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To prevent tripping over roots and rocks, lift your feet—especially your toes—slightly higher than you would if you were running on pavement or indoors on a treadmill.

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Look Straight Ahead

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Keep your gaze on the trail—about 10 feet ahead, not down at your feet—so you can see the upcoming terrain and avoid any obstacles.

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Don't Be Afraid to Walk

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If you're losing running motivation on a steep hill, walk—even experienced trail racers do it. You should also walk if you're approaching a tricky obstacle like a stream or log.

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Share the Path

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Always stay to the right on a trail. When you approach a person from behind, loudly say, "Passing on your right (or left)." If you encounter someone on horseback, move to the side of the trail and ask if it's safe to pass. If the horse is approaching you, stop moving altogether and allow it to pass. (Even if you don't plan on trail running during your next outdoor adventure, don't forget about these Safety Tips Even Experienced Hikers Forget.)

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