To some, trail runners may seem like people in too much of a hurry. Why not slow down and take in more scenery? But while hiking a trail slowly can provide deep connection to the land, trail running can connect us deeply to our pre-modern selves. Humans, by many accounts
, are running animals. Long before we domesticated other animals for hunting and transportation, we ran to get to our destinations and to get our food. And now, when we run along a footpath, we reach out to our rich running past.
That sense of connection has made trail running a popular way to get outside in the last decade. Plus, it's a lot of fun! If you already run, adding trail runs to your running routine is a great way to challenge yourself in new ways. Many trails are hilly, though, so you’ll probably find trail running harder than road running. You’ll also find roots, rocks, and other obstacles on trails, so you'll need to be more aware of your footing. If you aren’t a runner yet, the best way to start trail running is on flat trails and dirt roads -- going straight to a super-hilly trail will probably be a little frustrating.
Since trails often take you away from “civilization,” you’ll need to be prepared for any problems that might arise just like when you go hiking: knowing what wildlife is in the area and what to do if you were to sprain your ankle and couldn’t walk out on your own. Although many runners love the solitude that comes with a solo run in the woods, one simple way to preempt many problems is to run with a friend or a running group.