While trail running may seem pretty straightforward (the same as road running, just sans-pavement, right?) it’s crucial to keep some smart, strategic safety tips in mind.
For starters, “whether you’re a beginner or an expert, before heading out for a run, it is imperative that we all plan ahead. In fact, the first step in purchasing a trail shoe should really be to research the trail and read up on what to expect,” says Meaghan Praznik, Head of Communications at AllTrails.
“Choose trails appropriate for your fitness level and any injuries or conditions you have,” Hathiramani adds. “For example, if you haven’t been training on hills, avoid trails with challenging inclines and declines. If you are injury prone, look for softer surfaces such as grass, dirt, or wood chips.”
And if you’re new to trail running, be patient with your progress, says running coach and physical therapist Bridget Pyke. “Start on easier trails and run shorter distances, then gradually build up to longer and more technical trails.” In preparation, she also advises incorporating ankle mobility and stability exercises into your routine–to help prevent injury, such as ankle sprains.
Lastly, “For safety, always run with a buddy or a group,” says Pyke. “If you are running outside of cell phone range, bring a GPS tracking device in case of emergency.”