Whether you are a trail runner beginner or a veteran looking to start running again, it’s always wise to stay updated on safety guidelines that should be followed when trail running.
Before we start, remember: for a beginner, the ultimate safety measure is running with a more experienced group. Incidents that are minor issues for a group — such as one of the runners spraining an ankle — can become major problems or even life-threatening if you are running alone in an out-of-the-way trail.
1. Wear proper footwear
Losing your footing is one of the most common causes of injury when trail running. You will want to use comfortable shoes with good treading that were made for trail running. Keep in mind that shoes that are acceptable for running on a road may not work well on a trail, as navigating uneven ground and picking your way through tree roots will put additional strain on your footwear.
2. Become familiar with the trail
If it’s your first time on a given trail, it’s wise to take it easy at first. Start by walking, or do a light jog. You want to give your body time to get used to the new environment, and this will also give you a chance to spot any areas where the trail might not be well marked or the terrain is harder to navigate.
3. Stay hydrated
Water isn’t just important for your performance. Your brain needs lots of water, and both dizziness and disorientation can be caused by dehydration. Both of these can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are out running alone. Make sure you stay hydrated during your run, and always bring more water than you think you’ll need.
4. Have a backup
The goal is to not get lost and not get injured, but both can happen. Always keep these possibilities in mind while you run, and have a backup plan ready for what you’ll do if any of these issues do happen. The solution can be as simple as carrying a GPS for navigation or having a satellite phone on you with the number for local emergency services saved in memory.
Packing some snacks and extra water can also help improve your safety. The goal is to stay safe without having to pack a lot of extra weight, so high-calorie energy bars are a good choice for emergency food.
Finally, if you are running alone, make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to come back. This way they can send help if you vanish.
5. Keep an eye on your surroundings
There are many gorgeous trails out there, and it can be tempting to put on some headphones, start running, and just get lost in the zone. Enjoying the run, the sights, and the music. However, while this mind state is relaxing, it can leave you unable to notice dangers and issues until it’s too late. Keep an eye on your surroundings, and if you are using headphones, make sure to keep an eye out so you’ll be able to respond if someone calls for you, or calls for help.