10 Trail Running Lessons

Here are a few trail running lessons that I have learned over the past year. I thought I would pass them along to see if you can relate to any of them!

  1. Don’t eat eggs before you run. They will make you feel heavy and make you even gassier than running normally makes you! This can be a huge problem if you are ahead of your running partner; you may actually lose a partner on this one.
  2. Keep your kit tidy! Meaning don’t have earphone wires hanging down so they can swing aimlessly while you gallop along. Tuck those stray wires in your sports bar or in your shorts waist band. You will tire quickly of having to adjust laces, wires, straps…everything needs to be in it’s right place or else 2 to 3 hours down the trail you are going to have a meltdown. I have so I know.
  3. Take the right music. Music that sounds great at the beginning of the run can become very annoying hours in. How do you know you have the right music? For shorter tempo runs I always like a few sick beats to get dropped and for longer runs  I like something a bit more emotive, nothing that will make me cry mid-run, but soothing enough that it helps me keep on pace.
  4. Fight the urge to sit or lie down when you see a soft mossy patch along the trail. you won’t get back up.
  5. Always bring toilet paper. Let’s not beat around the bush, because you are eventually going to have to poop in one, so be prepared!
  6. There will be slow days and there will be fast days. There will be days that you love it and days that you swear you will never run again. It’s all a part of the process…embrace it!
  7. Learn to love walking. That’s right, I have let the cat out of the bag, the key to running for a really long time is learning when to walk and when to keep running. There is no shame in walking a chin scraper of a hill, it’s probably more efficient and energy-saving in the long run; unless you are kind of a big deal like some of the pro’s out there. I am not therefore I am not ashamed to walk every now and then!
  8. Running solo is a beautiful thing! Don’t be afraid to head out on the trails by yourself, even for the long runs.
  9. Running in a group is a beautiful thing! Learn to run with a group, especially people who are faster than you. You won’t believe how motivating it can be and just how well you can keep up if you just push a little harder!
  10. Don’t run with music, Strava or any other kind of tracking or melodic distraction at least once a week. At the cost of being called a running purist I am going to tell you it is worth it and it’s not as tough as you think. Sometimes it’s ok to be alone with your own thoughts or at the very least learn to distract your mind with what nature has to offer. Listen to the birds, the leaves rustling in the wind, your own breath and footsteps. Run because you love it, not because you need to know how far you went or how fast you ran each kilometre. Run based on how you feel. If it felt like you were  flying then you were, you don’t need Strava to tell you that!

What have you learned running the trails?

Author: Spring McClurg

I moved to B.C. with my husband in 2010 after spending 6 years living abroad in Ireland. Originally from a small town in Alberta that was minutes away from the Rockies, I always knew I would return to the mountains one day. I love spending as much time as I can in the mountains, whether it be mountaineering, rock climbing or simply running on the backcountry trails. I love to challenge myself and seek out new experiences.

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  1. This is great! Honest and accurate. As someone who never runs with music unless I’m forced onto a treadmill I especially love #2. I was once part of a large trail run (500-600 in the dead of winter) and a woman near me had earphone wires swinging all over the place tangling in other people’s arms and slapping them in the face. Also, I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one that had to learn that walking is okay, and even necessary, to do longer, harder, “funner” trail runs!

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    • Thanks! Funny, when I wrote about keeping your kit tidy it didn’t even occur to me that it could irritate other runners! Thanks for sharing your experience with the untidy runner 😉

      Since really increasing my mileage I have come to respect walking a great deal and like you said it becomes a necessity on some runs. I used to think that as soon as my pace slowed to walk somehow I was failing, but I have come to learn that as long as you keep going and don’t give in to the voices that tell you to stop, then it was a successful run!

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