Whether you’re new to trail running or an old hand, this handy check list may help you gear up for longer runs and faster recovery.
When you take off on a trail run a few things are markedly different than heading out on the streets of your neighborhood for a run. First off, you’ve likely had to drive to a trailhead — perhaps a remote trailhead — and that adds time to your run and the need to plan ahead. Our CEO, Dave, is an avid trail runner, exploring the trails of Northern Colorado any chance he gets. Here are his tips for gearing up for a run.
BEFORE YOU HIT THE TRAIL
- Know where you’re going! If you’re heading to a new trail, be sure to familiarize yourself with the route, and know any potential tough areas that may exceed your capability. Better still, run the first time with a buddy.You’ll also want to know:
- Where to park and how long you can park there. If they have a webcam at the lot, you can see if there are spaces before you head down the road.
- If there is a parking or entrance fee.
- If there are services in the parking lot like water fountain or port-a-potty.
- The weather forecast.
- How long do you want to run? Answering this question lets you know how to pack for hydration, fuel, skincare, lighting, and of course, lets you know what to tell people about when to expect you to check in after your run.Things to consider:
- How much elevation you want to tackle.
- How many miles you want to run/walk.
- How much light is left in the day.
- How long it will take you to get to the trailhead and then back home.
- Skin prep. Even on cloudy, overcast days you’ll want to put on your sunscreen and lip balm. If you know you have chafing issues, apply CHAFE or an anti-friction balm.
ON THE TRAIL
- A good hydration pack is essential. In fact, many trail runners have more than one to accommodate different trails they are running. Even if you’re going out for a short run, you’ll want to be sure to have some amount of water or sports drink with you just in case things don’t go according to plan or you meet someone who needs your help. You’ll want an estimated 5-10 oz of water for every 15-20 minutes of running. More if you’re doing a lot of hills or if it’s hot outside. A good hydration pack is worth the investment and can also hold a few of your on-the-trail must haves as well as your water.
- Keep your favorite fuel stash in your hydration bag. While your exact needs may vary, a good rule of thumb is 45–90 grams of carbohydrate per hour of running. Plan to take in some sort of energy at least every 30 minutes. Embrace the motto: fuel early and often. Waiting until you crash is too late.
- Body care. Keep a .6 oz of CHAFE and a 1 oz CHAMOIS in your hydration back for soothing hot spots that come up during your run. Dave uses CHAFE on his toes, heels, under his arms, or under a strap to manage hot spots on the trail. Keep your lip balm in your hydration pack, too, and if you’ll be out long enough to need to reapply, keep your sunscreen there, too.
- You never know when you’re going to have to go, so keep a bit of TP or Kleenex in your pack.
- First Aid. While you won’t be able to get a full first aid kit in your hydration or fanny pack, you’ll want a few things including bandages, mole skin, and an antiseptic wipe. You’ll want to keep a more complete first aid kit in your car.
- If you are going to be out close to sunset or know you’ll be out after dark, be sure to carry a headlamp. Check the batteries before you head out, and then use as needed to stay safe along the trail.
- Many hydration packs allow for a light jacket or long-sleeve shirt to be tucked into a set of straps on the back of the pack. Having some sort of outerwear can help with sudden rain, wind, or too much sun.
BACK AT THE CAR
You did it! You’re sweating, happy, and maybe a bit muddy from your trail run. Now it’s time to start your recovery. Your car-care recovery kit might include:
- Extra hydration. Keep a 1/2 gallon or gallon of water in your vehicle and if you like, include electrolyte supplements, too. Energy sports drinks can be good, but don’t substitute them for water.
- Keep some additional fuel in your car. We like bananas, oranges, Cliff Bars, Power Bars, and animal crackers (we know, but they’re fun). Whatever works for you and can give you a boost of energy to replenish what you’ve used.
- Clean-up gear. Keep a towel (or two) and a more substantial first aid kit in the car so you can clean up any dirt and sweat and take care of basic scrapes.
- Keep MUSCLE, RECOVERY+ or CHILL+ in your go bag to provide relief to sore, overworked muscles before you get into the car and stiffen up. Re-apply CHAFE to hot spots, including your feet.
- Change of clothes. As you drive back to home base, you’ll want to pull on a pair of warm-ups and maybe a fleece or wind breaker, depending on the weather. Swap out your running shoes for sandals or comfy shoes and change into dry socks.
Let us know your go-to trail running tips. We’d love to hear how you stay safe and have fun on the run.
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bluerub is a natural body care company for all athletes. Based in Colorado, all the products are made in Portland, OR. Val lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her dog.