Trail Running Tips

Trail running is usually more enjoyable and better for you than running on pavement. Pavement is hard and wears on your body, particularly your knees and feet. Whether you're a 'Lewis and Clarker' (one that just heads out across the frontier) or just a newbie, check out these tips for trail running to get the most of your off-road experience.

Tips for trail running:

  • 1. Chose your trail wisely. If you are new to trail running, chose a more beaten path like the PeaVine Trail in Prescott. It is more like running the canals in Phoenix. If you want to explore somewhere more adventurous, try to find a running buddy who knows the routes to show you the first time. Don't just head out on you own. You could get lost.

  • 2. Slow down. Trail running is not for time trials. Trail running can present unexpected obstacles like rocks and branches and sudden drops, so don't expect to run exactly as fast as you would on a flat road.

  • 3. Don't run for time. You really can't judge your time the same way as road-runners do. All routes present their own challenges, so do the same route regularly to compare your time if you must. PR's don't come on trails, only PR's for that trail.

  • 4. Pick up your feet. You may want to warm up before your trail runs with a few minutes of 'high knees' jogging in place. If you are a runner who 'shuffles' and often trips on the roads pay close attention, especially towards the end of your run when you may be a bit tired.

  • 5. Watch where you're going. Always keep your eyes on the trail several feet ahead of you to help avoid tripping. When running behind someone else, keep a few feet between you to escape accidents. You never know when they may be site seeing and not watching the trail and stumble.

  • 6. Bring what you need. Wear an endurance belt. Not all trails have the same amenities as roads or parks. For a long run, bring plenty of water with you to stay hydrated. Depending on how far you are planning on running, you may want to consider bringing food or energy gels to keep you going through a long trail run.

  • 7. Wear the right footwear. For most Prescott area trail runs, you don't need trail shoes, but I highly recommend good socks that come at least 1 inch above the top of your shoe to avoid dirt and rocks sneaking in and giving you blisters. But, if you are looking for more challenging trail situations, you may want to consider investing in a good pair of trail shoes for more stability.

  • 8. Save your energy. If any trail starts to get too steep, you may need to shorten your stride or even break to a power-walk (or even just a down right 'let me catch my breath' walk) to save your energy for the rest of the run. Taking long walking strides can sometimes be faster than running on an uphill.

  • 9. Avoid injury. You may want to consider slowing down when running down steep and or rocky grade to avoid twisting your ankle or straining your knees. Running downhill can be really fun, but use your best judgment. Keep your eyes on the trail ahead of you and do not get out of control. A good rule of thumb is to not go so fast that you can't stay on the trail.

  • 10. Run in silence. Trail running can be a meditative break from the routine of running the streets. Leave your iPod at home and enjoy the peace and quiet and the scenery. Also, running with ear-buds could keep you from hearing another runner or biker or a horseback rider coming upon you.

  • 11. Share the trail. Be aware of others using the trail. Many trails are narrow, so move to one side if someone wants to pass. A good rule of thumb to remember is Horses have priority on the trail. Slow down or stop if a horseback rider is approaching you. You could spook a horse and dump the rider causing the rider serious injury. Always let the rider know you are approaching them. This will let both the horse and rider know you are on the trail and could prevent your injury. You can bet they won't be listening to their iPod. Bicycles are next on the list of priorities. Give them all the same considerations you would a horseback rider. It still hurts falling off a bike. The runner does not usually fare well in collisions with horses or bicycles.

    If you are looking for a group of runners to run with in the Prescott area, may I suggest the Mountain Milers. They have runners of varying abilities, from a newbie to those that compete in the Boston Marathon.

    They run together at least a couple of times a week. Check them out at

    Many organized runs in the Prescott area occur on trails. They are so much more enjoyable than street runs. You get to see more flora and fauna, breath fresh air and see mountains, lakes and trees both up-close and in panorama views.

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