Although running on trails is similar to running on roads, trail running does require a little know-how before you get out and explore, especially if you're running in a foreign destination. I've reached out to my Alaskan friends and Juneau-Douglas High School Cross Country Coaches, Tristan Knutson-Lombardo and Mary Ellefson, for their tips on trail running. Every summer we bring a group of runners to their neck of the woods, and they graciously host a trail run up Perseverance Trail in the backcountry of the Juneau mountains. Every challenging stride is worth the trip, as you earn a spectacular view running alongside local mountain runners and XC kids. That's the beauty of trail running. It takes you places that stimulate your mind and soothe your soul.
Here's what Tristan and Merry had to share: PLUS: Best New Trail Running Gear
Leave a note/tell a friend: We've gotten in trouble more than once for not telling someone where we're headed and the approximate return time. That way, if something happens (you find a new trail to explore, fog sets in, or you lose your dog!), someone knows where you are and where to look. Know where you're going: Too many people head out on our trails without having done any research. Our trails extend into the backcountry quickly, so know where you are going and tell someone when you plan to be back. Know the hazards you may encounter (e.g. bears, cliffs, steep terrain, etc.), and take precautions to avoid them. Running with a buddy (or two, or three) is not only a safe idea but is also the best way to socialize while getting your workout in.
Talk to a local who's hiked or run the trail before you go: When I travel, be it in Poland, Norway, Minnesota, or Alaska, I try to find someone local who knows where I'm going and has had firsthand experience on the trail. Trail signs are often misleading. Find someone from a local running or outdoors store, an online communication, or the City Parks Department for information.
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