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7 Tips to Transition from the Road to the Trail

Trail running is a great way to start or renew your passion for running.  By abandoning the city streets and heading up to the trails, you leave behind the traffic, the noise, the dirty air, and the chaos of city life.  You are then transported to a quite, serene, challenging, beautiful place to run and to renew your soul.

But getting to the trail can be a daunting and intimidating thing.  In fact, you may not even know where to find a local running trail.  Here are 7 tips that you will need to successfully make the transition from road running to trail running.

Tip #1: Find a trail that suits your level.

When you are new to trail running, it may not be a great time if you go run the course for the Wahsatch Steeplechase (one of the most challenging trail runs around).  Instead you will want to seek out a trail that is relatively flat and probably not a single track.  Typically the wider the trail is, the less rocky and technical the terrain is.   Not sure where to find this?  Check out these trails.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail- Red Butte or Emmigration Trailheads
Mill Creek Canyon Pipeline Trail
Bonneville Shoreline Trail- Draper Equestrian Center Trailhead
Park City Round Valley Trails
Bonneville Shoreline Trail- Bridal Veil Trail Head or Rock Canyon Trailhead

Tip #2: Don’t worry about walking to the top.

Sometimes, those darn hills are just too steep to get to the top of if you are running.  Instead, keep your heart rate low and power hike to the top of the hill.  This will save valuable energy that you will want to use to go fast when you are going downhill.  That brings me to tip #3.

Tip #3: Don’t worry about walking to the bottom

Running downhill on rocky, uneven terrain is skill that must be learned.  Watching someone do this is a thing of beauty, but until you master the skill you will want to slow down or try skipping or galloping down the hills.  This will keep your momentum down and allow you to train your body to go faster, one step at a time.

Tip #4: Your feet go where your eyes go.

If you are looking right at a big rock as you approach it, chances are you will trip and do a great impression of a WWF body slam right into the dirt (don’t worry, the battle wounds are kinda like trophies).  Instead, look about 2-3 feet in front of you and when you approach those fallen trees or big rocks, instead of doing your best impression of a state champion hurdler, push off the top of the blockage with one foot.  If you are stepping on top of something, it is harder to trip over it.

Tip #5: There are not many flats in Utah trail running

In Utah trail running, there are uphills, downhills, and a little something I like to call flathills.  So even when someone tells you that a trail is flat, you should only think that there are flathills.  This means that the trail is undulating constantly, but you aren’t going to become completely winded by climbing 1,000 vertical feet in 1 mile.

Tip #6: Look up every once in a while

One of the best parts about trail running is the amazing scenery around you.  Especially in summer, when springs are wet, everything surrounding you explodes with color.  Instead of staring at the ground in front of you, look up and enjoy the beauty of everything around you.  And if you have to stop in order to pause and look around, it is worth it.

Tip #7: Join in the fun!

If you are new to trail running, you may want to try out a trail run when there are other people around to run with.  This way you don’t get lost and there are people there to reassure you about doing something that you love.  Follow Salt Lake Running on social media or subscribe to the newsletter to find out about our Wednesday night trail runs. You could also try the Park City Trail Series as a great user friendly introduction to trail events

See you on the trails!

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