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Trail Running Dangers and How to Avoid Them

Avoid Common Trail Running Dangers With These Tips

Running on trails can offer a much better workout than the gym treadmill. You'll burn more calories propelling your own body weight forward rather than relying on the treadmill belt. All those natural hills tone your legs, build endurance, and can make you a faster runner. Plus, the gorgeous scenery and dodging all the puddles and fallen limbs make running more exciting, which might inspire you to run more often and for longer distances. That said, there are some risks to hitting the trails, and here's how to avoid them.

  • Bugs, bears, and other creatures: Being one with nature may mean getting a little more up close and personal than you'd like. Bugs like mosquitoes and ticks, although annoying, can be avoided with a little bug spray and by wearing lightweight long-sleeve shirts and pants to cover your skin. Bears, wolves, and venomous snakes, on the other hand, I'd rather not have to deal with. Talk to fellow runners and those that maintain nearby trails to find out which areas are safe from wild animals.
  • Human predators: Unfortunately, furry animals aren't the only thing you need to worry about. Always run with a buddy, bring your dog for extra protection, carry a cell phone and ID on you, and if it'll make you feel safer, take along pepper spray.

Continue reading to find out how to avoid other trail running dangers.

  • Slippery, messy mud: Getting a little dirty won't hurt you, but wet sneakers can make it hard for your shoes to grip uneven terrain, putting you at risk for slipping. Wet feet are also prone to painful blisters. Wear waterproof trail runners and gaiters that cover your ankles to keep wetness out of your shoes, and run around (not in) mud puddles to help your tootsies stay dry and warm.
  • Tripping and falling: One bonus to treadmill workouts is that the surface is 100 percent predictable, so you can focus on other things like watching TV or the lyrics to your favorite Lady Gaga song. Trail running, with the tree roots that stick up, low branches, fallen limbs, holes, rocks, and streams, mean you have to remain completely aware of every step you take. If you zone off into the distance, it takes a second of not paying attention to trip, fall, and sprain your ankle. To better navigate the trail, look for spots where you can place your feet, like the patches of dirt between roots, since your feet will follow your eyes. Do look ahead, too, and scan the trail for obstacles.
  • Where am I?: Avoid getting lost by always running on familiar trails. Run during daylight hours, always tell someone where you're going, and if you're venturing out far, track your run with a GPS.
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