Winter 2015 was the coldest we've had in years, but March is bringing warmer temperatures and melting the snow away. Warm weather means it's time to say goodbye to the treadmill and hello to running outside! We recommend trail running this season to breathe in the fresh air and stretch your legs. Trail running has tons of advantages over running on the road, such as lower impact on your joints and a more serene environment. Here at Outdoor Sports Center we have all the gear you need, including a fantastic assortment of new trail running shoes for 2015! For those of you who are new to trail running, we've compiled a few tips to get you started safely and to help you get the most out of your run.
When running on a trail, you'll be surprised how quickly you start to de-stress and enjoy the beauty around you. Whether on a dirt path or a gravel road, you will stumble upon streams, bridges, and hills that will vary in difficulty and keep you alert. Wilton alone has so many great parks for all levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced runners can enjoy a variety of distance and intensity at each park. Be careful to start at an easier level if you are a beginner. The east loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail is a wide gravel path that's 2 miles long, easy to navigate, and just opened up this year. The entrance is across from the commuter lot on Wolf Pit Road, and it is a great starting point for beginners. It's important to remember that trails are for a wide variety of use; mountain bikers, dog walkers, and sometimes horses all share the same path, so stay alert just like you would on the road. Another challenge is following the trail markers in order to not get lost. This is much more of an issue on harder trails, like the Wilton Town Forest for experienced runners, so keep your phone or GPS on you at all times as a safety precaution.
If you're more accustomed to running on the road, you will find that the trail is completely different. Different muscles are being used; for example, trail running involves more focus on balance, which means engaging your core. There are often much steeper hills than you would encounter on the road and all sorts of obstacles. Be careful to ensure you have proper footing in order to protect yourself from twisted ankles and falls. Don't start out trying to achieve the same mileage that you run on the road. In fact, because of all the added challenges, it is wise when running on the trail to focus more on the time you spend running than the actual miles you run. Your time will reflect the intensity of your workout better than your miles will.
There are several pieces of gear other than running shoes that are crucial for trail running.
We carry the Ultra Trail Gaiter by Outdoor Research ($45) which will protect your feet from anything that could potentially fly up and get in your boot. This time of year, with all the snow melting and creating muddy trails, this is a must-have item!
Certain socks are much better on the trail than others, such as Smartwool's PhD Run ($15.95), which are more technical socks that have been completely revamped for 2015 with more durability and a higher thread count. The ankle comes up higher on these socks, which will protect your ankles in rougher areas.
Wearing sunglasses while trail running can protect your eyes from low-hanging branches that might not be so easy to see. Of course, you do not want to wear dark lenses when running in the woods, but brands like Smith and Native have many models that include a second lighter lens. Smith Parallels even come with an additional clear lens.
Most importantly, make sure you pick up a hydration pack or water bottle to keep you hydrated on the trail! We have hydration bottles and packs from Nathan, Fuel Belt, and Amphipod.
Here are the trail running shoes that our experts recommend above all others!
Brooks Cascadia 10 - This shoe has been redesigned with a more technical outsole, implementing the design of Brooks' PureGrit outsole. New smaller lugs give you significantly better traction on the trail. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.
Hoka Mafate Speed - This shoe is designed specifically for long distance running on the trail. Hoka is known for designing shoes with the most cushioning to keep you comfortable when running long distances. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.
LaSportiva Bushido - (Is this the most advanced tread?) This is the shoe you want if you will be running on a lot of technical terrains. The soles have extra grip and even give you the option to add spikes. They are excellent for varied terrain and drastic elevation changes. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.
Salomon Speedcross 3 - Known for its spectacular traction, this shoe performs in all weather conditions. If you like to run Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, or any other event that involves racing in the mud, this is the shoe for you. The Speedcross 3 is perfect for wet conditions. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.
Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco 3 - If you are new to trail running, this is the shoe you want to start with. Although it is great for any experience level, the wide base makes it incredibly stable, which is an important feature for a beginner trail runner. We carry this shoe in men's.