Professional ultramarathoner Dylan Bowman explains how a road warrior gets ready for the woods.
"The biggest challenge for runners transitioning from roads to trails is becoming accustomed to hillier terrain. Most trail races have a lot more vertical gain and loss than races on the road. This requires different muscle groups, which take time to develop. The best thing to do is run hillier routes a few times per week. If it's flat where you live, seek out a treadmill and do workouts on an incline."
Buy New Shoes
"Though they're often similar, trail shoes and road shoes serve different purposes. Runners transitioning from the road will probably notice a need for more foot protection due to rocks, roots, and other hazards. Trail shoes are usually made with a more durable, rubberized outsole and often feature rock-plate technology to provide better grip and prevent foot injury. I find that road shoes tend to break down more quickly."
Read a Map
"Learn to read maps and get comfortable with navigation. Trail running can take you to some amazing but unfamiliar places. It's important to have a resource in case you get turned around. Often there are unmarked intersections on remote trails and it's hard to know where to go. The best thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the route the day before and then bring a small map with you on the run."
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