Turning to trail? These are the things I find help me as I tackle the trails. Already a seasoned road runner, I am a complete novice on trail and need each and every one of these tricks.
1. Leave your GPS home
It helps me to forget about pace and focus on feel. Every "naked" run helps me dial into my natural pace and think positively. After the run if I really want to know, I calculate pace using Map My Run.
2. Choose some tunes
I am pretty comfortable leaving the music home on the road. I love the time to think and focus on breathing and just running. However, on trail I need all the motivation I can get. Music shifts my focus, making it feel easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other. On my last solo trail run, I chose a mix from a recent road race and visualized speeding along on the race course.
3. Run alone (or with others)
I am an introvert, which means that I am energized by being alone. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being around people - I do! It means that being around people can drain my energy. With something new, like trail running, I push myself harder when I'm alone, and I feel more confident. Extroverted? Try to do most of your running with a group.
4. Negotiate ... always
I will run as soon as I hit that tree! Or I can run 10 minutes more. Make deals with yourself and stick to them. In my first 3 trail runs I spent much of the time making these little deals. Pretty soon I had finished my goal, and I felt PROUD!
I have a hydration pack, but on my first long trail run with my training partner, I decided to leave the pack home. It was 80 degrees and humid, but we were only running 10. Coming from road, that seemed trivial. I felt wimpy packing water and fuel. At the end of this run, we drank from the dog spout in a park we were so thirsty! Know the situation and the terrain and come prepared. My next run, I arrived with everything I needed, and was MUCH happier!
6. Gear up
Trail running means trail shoes. With advice from my ultra runner sister, I headed to my local running store, Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company, and tried on the Pearl Izumi N2s. I took them on a local trail that I had run with my regular running shoes the two times prior, and enjoyed not feeling every rock under my feet! Having proper footwear gives me more confidence and comfy feet.