1. Shoes – Don’t take your road running shoes out on the trail, Stay away from cosmetic Trail running shoes, stick to the brands that build shoes exclusively for tough rigors of trail running, light weight, but supportive with an aggressive tread and toe bumper. Due to the popularity of the book Born to Run, you may be tempted to try barefoot running. Before you buy some 5-fingers and go out and injure yourself, be sure to check with your local specialty running store for advice.
2. Socks – Remember cotton is rotten, stick to polyester or wool blends. Wool socks are great year round. In the Northwest it’s best to wear ankle high socks in the winter to stay warm and keep the mud out of your feet!
3. Clothes – For long trail runs, you need a little more coverage than road shorts, and some pockets to hold your fuel. With runs venturing into different climate zones, versatile tops are a must. Light, longsleve zip tops. gloves, light weight jackets give flexibilty as conditions change. A small running pack or wastpack can hold what you need for changing conditions.
4. Sun Protection – For long exposures, altitude, or both, sun protection is a must. Try a water resistant sun block, hat and polarized sunglasses. Not only will they extend your comfort, but also will provide sunburn protection.
5. Fuel – Three main choices, liquid, gel or solid. Liquids and gels have an advantage for they are formulated to digest quickly with minimal gastric distress. Plan on injesting 240-280 calories per hour. Stay away from simple sugar drinks to avoid “sugar crash”. On longer runs, use a variety a fuels to keep your appetite up.
6. Hydration – You need 16 to 28oz per hour while running, you can’t count on water fountains or aid stations, so you need to carry your own supply. Depending on the distance and water availability, one or two hand held bottles, or a fanny pack may work, or a Hydration pack for the long haul.
7. Watch – Isn’t technology great, not only do today’s watches track time and intervals, but also heart rate, altitude, compass bearing and gps position. A watch will keep you on track to make it home before dark and with a gps, you can brag about the vert!
8. First Aid – The three most common maladies encountered on the trail are blisters, chafing, and abrasions from falls. If you are prone to blisters, carry some tough skin, band aids or duct tape. For chafing, carry sport stick or vasiline. For abrasions and cuts resulting from falls, pack gauze pads and a wrap. Gauze pads can be used for clean-up and as a bandage. If you only carry a sport drink, bring some type of wipes to clean wounds.
9. Map – When out on trails, whether training or racing, there will be a time when you reach a fork that isn’t marked. A map always works better than flipping a coin.
10. Buddy – Don’t go out in the great outdoors alone, a lot of things can happen. Whether assistance with trail finding, injury/sickness, or enjoying the experience, a buddy is a must!
Use these Ten Trail Running Essentials to prepare yourself to go Trail Run Crazy!