So You Want to be a Trail Runner - Page 3
Familiarize yourself with new trail with maps or guidebooks found at outdoor-gear, running or mountain-bike shops. We feature numerous trails and trail running destinations on our website.
To avoid getting lost, pay attention to trail junctions and landmarks, and learn how to use a map and compass. Though it’s wise to carry a cell phone, keep in mind there may be no network coverage outside town limits. Staying on the marked trails and making a mental note of your route (glancing behind you frequently is helpful) is the surest way to find your back to the trailhead.
Inform a family member or friend of your intended route and return time, or write this information down in the trailhead logbook or in a note left on your car.
Every trail runner has unique nutritional needs based on body type, individual preferences, food sensitivities and training regimen but all trail runners need to monitor their hydration level. Always carry more water than you anticipate needing in case you are out longer than expected. On trails far from convenient, sanitary water stops, use a portable water-purifying system such as a hand-pump filter, iodine and chlorine tablets or ultraviolet light.
A key part of proper hydration is consuming sufficient amounts of electrolytes, the essential minerals that regulate water retention, blood pH and muscle function. Consuming electrolyte-containing drinks, gels or tablets is critical when running for more than an hour. When out for a long haul, combine electrolyte-balancing water with easily-digestible, calorie-rich foods such as energy gels, bars, bananas, dried fruit or crackers.
Share the Trail
Chances are you won’t be alone out there. Be aware of animals in your area—know what do if you encounter a mountain lion (cougar), bear, moose, poisonous snakes or other dangerous wildlife. Pay attention to your route, and keep your gaze several paces in front of you, watching for roots, loose rocks or other hazards.
Be aware of other trail users, yielding the trail to downhill mountain bikers and runners and keeping your dog on a leash. To avoid startling hikers and riders on horseback, call out when approaching them from behind.