Hit the Trails With These 7 Pro Hiking Tips

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Did you know there are almost 200,000 miles of trails on federal land in the United States? From steep and rugged terrains to flat, well-traveled routes, there is something for anyone who wants to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Not only is a trail run or hike great exercise, research shows that spending time outside is associated with good health and well-being.

Before you head out on a new outdoor adventure, though, there are a few things you should know. Trail running and walking aren't quite the same as traversing paved surfaces, so it's important to be prepared. With the right equipment and expectations, you can enjoy all the benefits that your local trails have to offer.

1. Invest in Trail Shoes 


"There is a big difference between running shoes and those made for trail running or hiking," Lynell Ross, managing editor of Zivadream, explains. She recommends visiting a specialty running or hiking store to find shoes that fit properly and are designed specifically for your type of workout. "Trail shoes provide support and protection that running shoes don't [offer], as they are made for running on rough and varied surfaces. They also stand up to mud, gravel and other obstacles you may find on the trail," she says. Ross warns against wearing trail shoes on concrete or pavement since the road can wear down the rubber on them.  

2. Strengthen Your Ankles


"Perhaps the most common injury for hikers and trail runners is the dreaded ankle twist," says Paul Johnson, founder of North Outdoors. "Reduce the chances of a twist by getting good trail shoes and shortening your stride so you have firm control of your foot placement." Add a few ankle exercises to your strength routine for additional stability, as well. Incorporating calf raises, heel walks or single-leg balances on a BOSU or Wobble Board will help protect from injury.

3. Know Your Route


"Often, trail markings can be a little confusing or non-existent," cautions running coach Heather Hart. "Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back." Many parks post their trail maps online, so check them out ahead of time to get familiar with the layout. It's also a good idea to carry a cell phone in case you need it.

4. Focus on Your Footing


Johnson recommends not wearing headphones if you are hiking or running on a trail so that you can fully focus on the path ahead. "Many single-track trails can only accommodate one person in spots, which means you need to be able to both see and hear oncoming traffic," he says. "A great thing about trail workouts is that they tend to be less boring because there is so much for you to focus on while you run, hike, walk or bike." If you want to look around at the scenery, slow down or stop to help prevent a fall.

5. Don't Stress About Pace


Hart reminds her clients that trail running typically takes more effort than road running, due to ever-changing terrain, softer substrate underfoot and, quite often, elevation change. "I always tell people to ignore their watch. Your mile times are likely going to be much slower for the same amount of effort, and that's okay!" Instead of focusing on time, consider tracking distance and modify your expectations.  

6. Make It a Total Body Workout


Amanda Brooks, creator of Run to the Finish, often gives her clients a different kind of trail workout when they are feeling a little burned out or are in need a boost of motivation. "I like to incorporate strength training into the routine," she says. One of her favorites relies on a trail with benches or logs along the path. Whenever you come upon one or the other, stop and do one set of 10 pushups, 10 triceps dips, 10 side lunges and 10 in-and-out crunches. This adds variety and gives you a strength and cardio workout all in one.  

7. Respect Progressive Overload


Progressive overload is the principle that as you increase the workload during a specific activity, your body will adapt and your muscles will become stronger. Michael Julom, founder of This Is Why I'm Fit, reminds his clients of this principle when they start trail running and walking. "This is training, and like any other type of training, you will be looking to adapt and strengthen your body," he explains. "Start off light, with simple, less-advanced trails, but make each training day slightly harder than the previous one. Your body will adapt in no time."
 

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Comments

DANCINGGARDENER 8/2/2020
Running 2 or 3 miles on trails around lakes, along the river, or through forests every other day has been better for me than all of the antidepressants I took for 30 years not to mention a couple hospitalizations. Two years of painfully honest therapy and forming a running-in-the-woods habit has left me pleasantly content, optimistic, and drug free. I had never ran 5 paces in a row before I was 49 but now if I don't get out on the trail at least 3 times a week, I get figity and grouchy. Report
KATHYJO56 7/24/2020
I miss hiking, but hiking with a walker is only good on special trails and I love those. Report
EOWYN24241 7/24/2020
Now I feel like hiking! Report
KATRENIAH 7/12/2020
These are really good tips! My next hike is gonna be awesome. Thanks. Report
DWROBERGE 7/11/2020
interesting Report
GGRSPARK 7/11/2020
We hike whenever we can and especially enjoy Southern California. So many trails and many are rated for difficulty. I do wear trail shoes but hiking boots would be a good idea for some trails, even the easy/ moderate ones... watch out for loose ricks snd pebbles. Report
CHERYLHURT 7/11/2020
Great Report
BIKE4HEALTH 7/11/2020
SOUNDING GOOD Report
BIKE4HEALTH 7/8/2020
thx Report
ROCKRS 7/8/2020
Thanks Report
DWROBERGE 7/7/2020
great tips Report
NANCYPAT1 7/6/2020
Thanks Report
DWROBERGE 7/6/2020
informative Report
GABY1948 7/5/2020
Great Report
BIKE4HEALTH 7/5/2020
thx Report
ROBBIEY 7/4/2020
thanks Report
SUNSET09 7/4/2020
Now is a good opportunity to work on these, SparkFriends. Oh yeah Report
RACHAEL2020 7/2/2020
Thanks Report
NANCYPAT1 6/30/2020
Thanks Report
PORTIA70 6/29/2020
I would love to find some awesome places to hike. The last time that I remember hiking was when I was a teenager Report
HOLLYM48 6/29/2020
Great article! Report
SPANDY04 6/28/2020
wow Report
GABY1948 6/28/2020
Great Report
GOFORGIN 6/28/2020
ok Report
ROBBIEY 6/27/2020
good tips Report
GABY1948 6/27/2020
Great Report
1LITTLECLOUD 6/27/2020
great article Report
BIKE4HEALTH 6/27/2020
thx Report
GABY1948 6/26/2020
Thanks Report
EOWYN24241 6/25/2020
thanks! Report
SPANDY04 6/25/2020
wonderful article Report
DMEYER4 6/24/2020
thank you Report
MUGABI123 6/23/2020
Great tips for a beginning hiker Report
LAURALLANCE 6/23/2020
Great tips on hiking. Thanks so much. Report
LIBRARIANMOM2 6/21/2020
My son is working on his hiking badge for scouts. My husband and I are joining him. We completed our second 10 mile hike this weekend. Report
NANCYPAT1 6/21/2020
Thanks Report
NANCYPAT1 6/21/2020
Thanks Report
NANCYPAT1 6/21/2020
Thanks Report
DWROBERGE 6/21/2020
great info Report
MJ7DM33 6/20/2020
Thanks! Report
GABY1948 6/20/2020
Thanks Report
MWHIGGINS 6/19/2020
Thanks for the tips! Report
AIYANASMAMA 6/18/2020
TY Report
GO_GAL_GROW 6/17/2020
Good Stuff! Report
PWILLOW1 6/17/2020
I would love to hike and wish I had done more of it when I was able to. Report
KATHYJO56 6/17/2020
interesting Report
LOSER05 6/17/2020
thanks Report
KITTYHAWK1949 6/17/2020
okay! Report
DWROBERGE 6/17/2020
great read Report
ZRIE014 6/17/2020
thanks Report