- Be in tune with your surroundings. Ditch the headphones and music when you trail run. There are so many things you need to be aware of like animals, other hikers on the trail, equestrian riders trying to get your attention to pass and so forth. You are also outside in the wilderness, why not enjoy the peace? Also you will need to pay attention to where you are. Out in the wild those rocks can all start to look the same. Pay attention to intersections and trail-head signs for the way back. I can't tell you how many times I have taken a wrong turn because I was completely zoned out.
- Wear the right shoes. A trail shoe can make all the difference depending on the type of terrain you'll be running. You can get away with wearing your regular running shoes on a flat dirt trail. However once the terrain starts to turn into singletrack or steep, rocky, covered with roots; you may want to invest in a sturdier shoe.
- Pack it with you. I always carry a backpack with me when I run. In fact it's my hydration as well. But before I head out, I always make sure I have a couple band-aids, a whistle (mine is built into the pack) my cell phone and extra snacks. And I always carry more water then I anticipate drinking that day.
- Slow down and scan ahead. While you may be able to hold an 8.00 minute mile pace on the street or treadmill, DO NOT expect your pace to be the same. It will be slower, much slower and you will walk at times. I personally don't even bother to look at my pace on my watch while trail running, I prefer just to look at it for the distance. In addition to slowing down you will also want to make sure you are constantly scanning the trail for obstacles. Always look about 5-10 feet in front of you.
- Be safe. Always tell people where you are going. Stick to trails where you know you'll see other hikers. Stay on the path and never take shortcuts. And if the trailhead has a guest log, sign it. You just never know what will happen and it's better safe then sorry.
Most importantly get outside, have fun and don't forget to enjoy the view!
Have you tried trail running? What tips can you add?