- Invest in some sturdy trail running shoes. They support your feet so much better than basic sneakers. Plus, they're usually a little darker-colored, so they won't show mud as easily.
- Start off on flat trails. The uneven terrain is hard enough to get used to without adding hills into the mix.
- Pay attention to the ground. Rocks, fallen branches, and tree roots have thrown me to the ground many times. Luckily I only ended up with a few bruises and scrapes, but if you fall the wrong way, you could tear a muscle, twist an ankle, or sprain a wrist.
- This may seem obvious, but avoid stepping in puddles or mud. If your feet get wet, it's a good way to end up with a painful blister.
- Gradually add inclines and declines to your runs. If hills are steep and long, run as much as you can and don't be shy about walking when they get to be too intense for your glutes and quads. The more hills you run, the stronger your legs will become. When you're not running, you can also do these moves to strengthen your legs.
For other tips,
- Run with a buddy. Running in the woods is more dangerous than running on busy roads. You'll be glad you have a friend with you in case you fall and get hurt, or you come upon a creepy person (hey, it happens).
- Keep an ID and a cell phone on you, just in case.
- Ditch the headphones so you can be completely be aware of dogs, people, and wild animals. If you have to listen to music when you run, put your iPhone on speaker so you can hear Lady Gaga, but you can also hear outside sounds.
- Wear sunscreen. Even though the place you run may be wooded, UV rays can still sneak in through open spaces. You don't want to end up with a nasty burn.
- Wear bug spray. Nothing's more annoying than swatting mosquitoes while you're trying to conquer a hill.
- Get out of your clothes and shower immediately after your run, in case you ran through some poison ivy, poison oak, or poison whatever. It's also a good time to check yourself for ticks.