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    Back Pain When Running: Causes and 12 Exercises to Treat It

    When you head out for a run, you expect to have tired legs, burning lungs, and general exhaustion — what you don’t often expect to have is lower or upper back pain during or after running.But surprisingly enough, back pain amongst runners is a very common thing, particularly in less experienced runners, those with improper running technique, or weak back and glute muscles (which is most of us!).So if you’ve ever experienced back pain when running, you know just how annoying and painful it can be.Important:Back pain is common and can have other complex causes unrelated to running (such as stress). Even though it’s often not serious, it’s smart to be cautious. Consult your doctor — especially if you feel unwell and pain spreads to the leg (numbness/tingling) or does not improve with rest. When in doubt, check it out!In the following article we’ll answer your most common questions:Why do we get back pain while running, anyway?If you think about it, your back has an enormous role to play when it comes to running. When you run, you have to hold your body upright — sometimes for a very long time. In order to do this, your back has to work with the rest of your body to keep you moving and upright. If your muscles are not up to the task, you may get upper or lower back pain.Why does my lower back hurt when running?When it comes to your lower back, leg and core strength, flexibility, and coordination all play an important role:Your core muscles have to work hard to support your spine and lower back.When running, your core, hips, glutes, and hamstrings have to join forces to keep you stable.What happens when one muscle or a group of muscles become fatigued?Your lower back has to work harder to keep you upright and on your feet, which can cause pain, or worst case scenario — injury.Why does my upper back hurt when running? If you’re experiencing more pain in your upper back instead of your lower back, it’s often a result of your head position:A lot of upper back pain is a result of having your head leading your body — jutting out in front of your body — causing unnecessary tension and stress on the upper back. Another likely culprit of upper back pain is your arms. If you’re holding your arms up too tight or maybe even too high, or tensing your shoulders up towards your ears (which is common when the body is fatigued), it can cause strain on your upper back.What can you do to prevent back pain when running? To prevent back pain when running, the best thing you can do is to work on your strength and flexibility.This is why cross-training — incorporating strengthening movements into your running routine — is so important! If you want to run for a long time, you have to protect your body by strengthening the muscles that keep your body moving and upright — it’s as simple as that. What are the best bodyweight exercises to prevent back pain during and after running? Thankfully, there are ways to lessen the stress on your back and make running a little more comfortable — well, unless you ask your legs, of course. As long as you are experiencing back discomfort, stick with easy, comfortable runs.If you’re asking yourself “how do I get rid of back pain when running,” try the following 12 bodyweight exercises:1. Superman[embedded content]2. Beetle[embedded content]3. Single Leg Balance & Reach (Shin) L/R)[embedded content]Challenging? Start with Single Leg Balance L/R!4. High Plank Leg Lifts[embedded content]5. Single Leg Bridge L/R[embedded content]6. Mod. Low Side Plank Lifts L/R[embedded content]7. Quadruped Limb Raises[embedded content]8. Superman Pull[embedded content]For upper back tension try Wall Lateral Pull-Downs, too.9. Single Leg Deadlift L/R[embedded content]10. High Plank Limb Raises[embedded content]11. V Ups[embedded content]If you’re struggling to control your form, try Single Leg V-Ups.12. Single Leg Jump Squats L/R(When outdoors, give Forward Jump Squats a try instead!)How to train:Exercises are sorted from basic to more challenging. Start from the top. Pick the first 4 exercises that you can do slowly without pain, and maintain proper form/technique. Do 3 sets and aim for 8-12 reps.Good to know:Some exercises might seem easy at first, but make sure to check coaching cues before moving on. Gradually build up to more reps and switch to harder exercises while maintaining good form.3 Bonus Exercises:Give these 3 flexibility exercises a try. If one or more makes your back feel better, do them before the above-mentioned strength training, after a run, or in your free time. Be gentle with yourself and repeat as often as you like – even every day.14. Cat Cow15. Lying Figure 4 Stretch L/R16. Supine Twist L/R*** More

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    Tired After Running: 5 Tips to Recover From Running Fatigue

    You laced up your running shoes, were full of motivation, and finished a fantastic run. But suddenly, fatigue sets in, and you feel totally exhausted. Have you ever experienced this? You might have been hit by running fatigue.What is Running Fatigue?Running fatigue is a physical state of exhaustion that occurs when someone runs (too) hard or runs long distances regularly. When constant exhaustion occurs, the body can’t recover fully. Thus, the fatigue is carried over to the next training session. Why? Because it takes time for your body to eliminate waste products from your tissues and muscles and to repair the muscle fibers.These five tips are guaranteed to help you prevent tiredness and recover quickly after a run.5 Tips to Overcome Running Fatigue1. Fuel up Before Your RunHave a snack rich in carbohydrates 30 to 60 minutes before you head out for a run. After all, your body can’t feel good after training if you haven’t given it enough fuel before the run. So, grab a banana, eat a low-fiber granola bar, or a slice of toast with jam.Also, don’t forget to hydrate. Although a glass of water before working out can help get you going, start hydrating long before your run. Drinking too much water right before working out can cause discomfort in your stomach; it takes time to digest water.2. Listen to Your Body (And Do Some Cool-Down Stretches) Do you get side stitches during your run? Are you dizzy? Do your legs feel weak? Listen to what your body is telling you! If you need a break during training, take it. Reduce your pace a bit or even walk for a while.Tip for beginning runners:Make sure you don’t increase your pace and intensity too fast. Overtraining symptoms can develop. Your body needs time to get used to the increased effort. By ramping up your running in a slow and controlled manner, you can improve your performance and avoid being tired after running.The ideal time to cool down and do some stretching is post-run:3. Refuel After a RunTo overcome fatigue after running, you should have a small meal of complex carbohydrates and protein at least an hour after your run. This gives you more energy and also helps your muscles recover. Ideas for your post-workout meal:A smoothie with coconut water, Greek yogurt, fruit, and chia seeds Oats with milk and dried fruit A veggie omelet with a slice of whole grain breadH3: 4. Take Time to RecoverA good night’s sleep is essential for your health and recovery, and it’s just as important as your actual running training. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but certainly doesn’t get enough attention. When you sleep, your body has time to regenerate, repair microscopic damage done by working out, and build muscle.If you need to rest, but also feel like moving your body a bit, you can do a short yoga-inspired session in the adidas Training app, mild stretching, or foam rolling.Good to know:Recovery starts before you go for a run. Plan rest days and stretching sessions as regular elements of your training routine.5. Monitor Your Mental HealthInstead of feeling energized after running, you feel somewhat depressed, tired, or grouchy? You might be mentally exhausted.Sports is a great way to reduce stress, but you should always feel good about the activity you choose – it should not stress you out! If you don’t enjoy the sports type (anymore), take a break from it and try something different: switch running to yoga, walking, or swimming.Always listen to your body and give yourself the time you need to recover and feel great!*** More

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    Swimming Workouts in Winter are a Perfect Cardio Alternative

    Winter offers some new cross-training alternatives like cross-country skiing or ice skating. However, winter also makes it more difficult to run outdoors. The temperatures outside are colder, and it gets dark earlier.This is why many runners look for alternative cardio possibilities in winter. Swimming workouts are great options. Swimming workouts burn tons of calories. Swimming workouts engage many different muscle groups. The water supports a good deal of your body weight, making it a low-impact form of exercise for those with delicate joints or coming back from a running injury.Why Swimming Workouts are a Great Cardio AlternativeSwimming workouts burn an average of 500-800 calories per hour. The number depends on the correct execution and speed of your movements (muscle activity). Athletes new to running can also benefit from swimming workouts to get in more cardio without risking a running injury. Basic Endurance Swimming Workout10-minute warm-up in a stroke of your choice.5 minutes of accelerations over a defined distance (25, 50 or 100 m). Start off slow and steadily increase the pace until you reach your maximum speed.10 minutes of drills to improve the efficiency of your technique. These include exercises designed to Improve your body position in the water (gliding exercises)Exercises to improve your propulsion in water (sculling exercises) and exercises to improve your technique in a specific stroke (e.g. freestyle).You can choose from general technique drills (like closed-fist freestyle, kicking from the hips and keeping a high elbow catch) or specific exercises recommended by a swimming coach.Now choose a distance between 25 and 200 m, depending on your individual fitness level. Swim this distance as many times as possible within the time you have available. After each interval, rest for 20-30 seconds. You should choose a pace per interval that challenges you but does not exhaust you immediately. If you can, you should time your first interval using a stopwatch and then try to maintain this pace during the following intervals. This not only boosts your cardiovascular system, but it pushes your muscles to their limits and thus helps you to burn serious calories.  5-minute cool-down to round off the workout.Tips for Your Swimming WorkoutIntense endurance training causes your body to burn many calories and – as often desired – a lot of fat calories. But be careful: it also burns a large number of carbohydrate calories.This is significant because our body only has a limited number of carbohydrates available to burn (in contrast to fat). They are stored in the form of glycogen. When your glycogen stores are empty, your body sends out a signal immediately. How do you know? You get hungry. So, make sure that you eat a balanced mix of foods before and after your swimming workout. If you want to burn more fat than carbs, you should train longer and at a lower intensity. This is known as extensive endurance.Benefits of extensive endurance: You won’t feel hungry right after your workout. Plus, it burns off more fat proportionately.Drawbacks of extensive endurance: The calorie burn per hour is somewhat lower than for intense endurance training.*** More

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    Detraining: What Happens When You Stop Exercising?

    Many things can get in the way of your fitness routine. Getting injured, taking a break to focus on something else, or simply losing interest. The question is: How soon and to what degree will you get out of shape if you stop working out?Good to know:If you plan a break, consider reducing your training instead of skipping it – it will help you retain your form! Tips on how to do this can be found at the end of the article.Detraining effectThe so-called detraining effect can result in the partial or complete reversal of all benefits you got from your regular workouts. The response is individual and highly dependent on your current form and training history. However, most people notice a difference between a shorter (4 weeks or less) and longer (more than 4 weeks) break.  Short break (≤ 4 weeks) from trainingAccording to research, many physiological changes start to take place even after a short break.[1]Key points:Endurance goes firstHighly-trained athletes notice a bigger drop than recreational runnersEnduranceFor recreational runners, training history will make a difference. If you were only training for a couple of months before your short break, you probably won’t notice any changes. However, if you have a year or more of training behind you, you might notice your times getting slower.Example: If you could run a 5k in 22 minutes, after 2 weeks you might need 1 minute more.Did you know?The most commonly used measure of an individual’s fitness level is the maximum oxygen uptake, VO2max. It shows how efficiently your body can use oxygen during exercise. It is the first thing to decrease when you stop exercising, ranging from 4-14%.(2)Endurance athletes might notice up to 25% shorter “time to exhaustion”, which affects their performance significantly. Muscle, strength, flexibilityYou probably won’t notice a decrease in muscle strength. In general, it’s easy to get your numbers back up fast after a short break. However, some may see a drop in power after a short break, especially highly-trained athletes. A drop in muscle glycogen could make your muscles appear smaller, due to less water retention.(3) It can also make you feel fatigued faster once you get back to training. No need to worry, this effect will reverse quickly once you are back on track.A decrease in flexibility might be felt in the hips, trunk, and spine. In other words, that pose you practiced during yoga classes will probably be harder when you come back after 3 weeks of no training.Long break (4+ weeks) from trainingResearch shows that a long break from a training routine has significant effects on your body.(4)Key points:Endurance might reverse to the pre-trained stateMuscle mass decreases, but it does not turn into fatEnduranceThe VO2max will continue decreasing, even up to 20%. At this point, you might be at risk of losing all your cardio gains, because the functioning of your whole cardiorespiratory system is slowly returning to its pre-trained state. Example: If a 5K now takes you 22 minutes, you might now need 25 minutes or longer.Muscle & fatThe loss of lean muscle mass starts happening slowly. Physiologically, this resembles the normal aging process. When it comes to strength, research is not clear. It seems that the rate at which you lose strength depends on how many years or months of training you had, the type of training, and your age.Example:Example: In one study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 9 weeks of strength training increased leg strength in previously untrained young men from 80 to 100 kg on a knee extension machine. 12 weeks later their strength remained almost the same. 7 months later it dropped to 90 kg.Did you know?“Muscle memory” helps well-trained individuals regain their strength faster after a longer training break. A key part of muscle memory is the neural adaptations that happen as you spend time learning a skill and getting stronger.(5)Even though muscle mass decreases, it does not “turn into fat”. A longer break might, however, reverse the positive effects previous exercise had on your fat metabolism. It’s  difficult to distinguish what affects your fat metabolism more: training, calorie deficit, or a combination of both. So, whether you will gain fat or not during your break depends on your metabolism as well as nutrition habits.Is there anything you can do to keep the negative effects to a minimum?If you are aware that you won’t be able to return to your regular training routine soon, don’t despair. You can try some of the following tips to keep your detraining effects to a minimum:Focus on intensity: You can maintain a lot of your fitness by reducing your workouts up to 50% (frequency and duration) and cranking up the intensity – try interval runs! Cross-training: If you are injured, ask your doctor which activity is safest for you. Often swimming is a good alternative. This works especially well in preserving fitness for recreational athletes. It is important to find cross-training activities that match the specific demands of the particular sport.Eat enough protein: Making sure that you eat enough protein will help you at least slow down the process of losing muscle mass during times when you are not able to do your regular workouts.Interesting fact:Training an uninjured limb can make the injured limb stay fitter and stronger! This so-called “cross-transfer” effect is sometimes used in post-surgery rehabilitation.(6)Motivated to start training again? Discover how to adapt your diet to gain muscle or learn more about the benefits of short workouts!*** More

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    Runners’ Risk of Blood Clots in Legs & How to Spot DVT Symptoms

    Does running cause blood clots? Weighing the benefits and risks of exercise can be a confusing business. You may have heard stories of strong, healthy runners dropping dead of a heart attack or suffering a pulmonary embolism without any warning. Is this something you need to worry about? Part of the problem is the false assumption that the population at greatest risk for blood clots is over 60, obese, and/or smokers. In fact, endurance athletes of all ages as well as athletes participating in contact sports like hockey or football are also a significant risk group. Don’t let fear get in your way of better health. Building awareness of blood clots in the general population and even more so among athletes is the key to prevention. Know your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), how to prevent clots from forming, and spot symptoms early to start treatment. What is the difference between VTE, DVT, and PE?Blood clotting is an important process in which your blood coagulates, forming a plug to stop bleeding after a cut or injury. Problems occur when a venous thromboembolism (VTE) – the medical term for a blood clot –  forms within your veins for other reasons. This can happen after long periods of sitting, like on a long flight, or as a result of injury. These clots can then dislodge and move to other areas of your body, obstructing blood flow to important organs. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a kind of blood clot that forms in a deeper vein – usually in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis. DVT usually is caused by trauma or infection after an injury or damage to a vein from surgery. A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot that either moves to your lungs from somewhere else in your body or forms directly in your lungs. This can cause a lack of blood flow that damages lung tissue or result in low blood oxygen levels which harms other organs. Depending on the size and number of clots, a pulmonary embolism can quickly become very dangerous and even life-threatening. Who is at highest risk of developing a venous thromboembolism?Anyone can develop a blood clot, but certain circumstances, behaviors, and genetic predisposition can put you at an increased risk. About 900,000 Americans are affected by blood clots each year, many of those leading to death.(1)In addition to age, obesity, and smoking, the highest risk factors include surgery which may cause damage to a vein, pregnancy, injury resulting in trauma to blood vessels and immobilization, as well as a family history of blood clots. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of developing a clot. Does running cause blood clots?There is no question that regular exercise throughout life improves your health. However, the intense and extended training that marathon runners require puts greater stress on the system. This thereby increases the risk of developing blood clots in the legs.In 1884, German physician Rudolf Virchow defined three main categories of factors that contribute to blood clots. Today it is known as Virchow’s Triad. These factors are grouped into a.) the efficiency of blood flow (circulatory stasis), b.) the integrity of blood vessels (vascular damage), and c.) composition of blood itself (hypercoagulability).(2)Within these three categories there are specific factors that put long-distance runners at a higher risk. These factors include but are not limited to dehydration, inflammation, use of estrogen contraceptives during training or races, and extended sitting during long flights when traveling to races. What are the signs and symptoms?The most common sign of a blood clot in the leg (or arm) is pain that most people describe as a cramp. This may be accompanied by swelling or warmth in the affected area. The skin could also be discolored, appearing reddish or bluish. Pulmonary embolism symptoms include shortness of breath, sharp, stabbing chest pain, and feeling faint. You may also experience low blood pressure, a cough, or fever. Be aware of these symptoms and don’t ignore them. Although blood clots sometimes dissolve on their own, check with your doctor to see whether you need to start a treatment plan, such as anticoagulant medication.Treating Blood ClotsSee your doctor. It is vital that you assess the risk the clot poses to your health. If the clot is dangerous, you may be prescribed anticoagulants or thrombolytics to dissolve the clot. You can also wear compression stockings, elevate the area, and keep moving. Make sure to drink plenty of water, as dehydration causes your blood to thicken and increases the risk of clots. How to prevent blood clotsWhile we’ve established that running doesn’t cause blood clots, the circumstances in which endurance athletes frequently find themselves do put long-distance runners at a greater risk. There are a few things you can do to prevent the formation of blood clots, no matter what your existing risks are. 5 Prevention TipsGet up and move around regularly. Whether at work, on a plane, or after recovering from an injury or operation, make sure to move your body as much as possible. If you can’t get up and walk, flex your heels and calf muscles every 20 minutes. When you’re at work, see if you can squeeze in a 5 minute workout every hour. Micro workouts also do wonders for your mental health.Stretch regularly throughout the day.Stay hydrated. This should be a priority all the time, but pay particular attention to your water intake when training for a race, traveling, and post workout. Maintain a healthy weight.Stop smoking.TakeawayAn ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fight clots before they become a problem by being aware of symptoms. Does running cause blood clots? No. But if you are training for marathons or other long-distance competitions, paying attention to warning signs as well as your own genetic predisposition to any kind of venous thromboembolism could save your life. Blood clots can happen to anyone. Be smart, and see your doctor if you notice suspicious cramp-like pain, discoloration, or dizziness. *** More

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    Ab Workouts are a Waste of Time. Core Muscle Exercises are Better for Your Overall Health.

    Core muscles are better than just abs. Why? Your core is one of the most important muscle groups in your entire body. Strong core muscles make everyday movements easier. Even though core muscles are so important, many people don’t know what they are. Worse, people think flat stomachs and chiseled abs are indicators of a strong core, but are actually unrealistic body images.This post will educate you on what your core really is, why core exercises are essential and which ones really work, and why standalone ab workouts aren’t really what you should do.What are Core Muscles?Your core is the muscle group found in the midsection of your body. Your core includes your stomach or belly area, mid and lower back, hips, and glutes (butt muscles). The major muscles of the core are your transverse abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and diaphragm. Given how many muscles make up your core, it’s no wonder why this muscle group is so important not just for sports performance but even for everyday health. Why are Strong Core Muscles Important?You use your core muscles in almost every activity you do. Core muscles help you pick things up, maintain proper posture and generate power during running and other activities. Strong core muscles also decrease the likelihood of back pain, especially lower back pain. Everything you do uses core muscles, so make sure you do your core exercises!Best Core ExercisesThe five best exercises for your core are:Plank Try these plank variations.Bridge[embedded content]V-Ups[embedded content]Russian Twist[embedded content]Leg Raises[embedded content]Check out the 10 Best Core Exercises to see how to do the exercises plus five more amazing core exercises! Follow along with this 16-minute core workout![embedded content]Why Ab Workouts are a Waste Of TimeYou may have noticed that this post hasn’t mentioned building washboard abs or flat stomachs yet. Many people believe that core muscles are the same as abs. While having that mythological set of abs can be a sign of strong core muscles, you may not get abs even when you focus on building core muscles.We are bombarded by images of super fit people and celebrities with chiseled abs. It’s no wonder so many people think having abs will mean they are instantly attractive and healthy. But being able to actually see your abs is mostly a function of low body fat, ab toning exercises that don’t build functional muscle, and even dangerous practices like intentional dehydration.Ab workouts like sit-ups, crunches and others only tone the abdominal muscles. Furthermore, these workouts don’t actually build functional muscle—the kind of muscle you need to live pain-free and do the things you want to do like picking up stuff (or kids) or setting a PR in your next half-marathon. What ab workouts actually do is strain underdeveloped back muscles, which can lead to severe back pain or even injury.Check out these plank variations that also develop strong and healthy back muscles:[embedded content]Don’t waste your time with vanity ab workouts and exercises. Build functional core strength you can actually use by doing the above exercises instead.How to Really get a Flat StomachSo, you really want to get a flat stomach even though you should really be focusing on building core muscles? Here’s how you can do it in the least amount of time:Do any of those things seem realistic, sustainable, healthy or fun? Don’t mistake vanity for health. Just because you can see your abs and they look defined doesn’t mean you have strong core muscles or are healthy. Instagram abs are a waste of time: build strong core muscles, butt muscles or even chest muscles instead!Get the truth about abs!Why You Don’t Need Rock-Hard Abs or a Flat StomachAbs and flat stomachs are unrealistic body images we all fall victim to. The images of wildly fit people many of us see in the media are not what we should strive towards. Focus on building functional core muscles that will actually make your life better and not just vanity muscles that you think will make your life better.Treat yourself: strive for health.*** More

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    Running Off-Road: These 5 Trail Running Tips Will Get You Started

    If you think trail running only happens in the mountains, you’re mistaken.Running off-road is about leaving the streets and running on a natural surface. We’ll give you 5 tips to make it easier to ditch tar for off-road running. 1. Look for the right trail running routeYou don’t necessarily have to go into the wild for your next trail run. Look for a route that takes you through parks, on gravel paths, or across fields. You’ll find new areas away from where you usually run and get an introduction to running off-road. If you’re not that familiar with your surroundings, take a look at the map and get an idea of where you might find some trails. Expert Tip:Be free and run without a plan. Decide where you want to go according to how you feel; be spontaneous and try different running surfaces. Trail running is not necessarily about setting a PR; it’s also about experiencing your environment. 2. Train for new conditions The biggest challenge you have in trail running is the different terrain you run on. It’s a good idea to develop your leg muscles if you want to run trails. Exercises to improve stability and balance help prevent injuries. You should also strengthen your ankles so you don’t end up twisting or spraining them.  Where does trail running happen? In trail running, only 20% of the route should be on paved surfaces like asphalt and cobblestones. The rest is run on rougher terrain. The different parts of the route can be on gravel paths, trails in the woods, and single-track trails. Are you ready for a bit of competition? Lace up your trail running shoes and compete against Gaia, a wild mountain lion, in this year’s Run Wild challenge!3. Prepare for off-road running with bodyweight exercisesWhen you’re ready to prepare for your first trail run, try the following bodyweight exercises:Stability and balance exercises: Plank: This full-body workout is a great way to strengthen your core. Single-Leg Stand: Stand on one leg and slowly come up onto your toes. As soon as you feel confident enough, you can try this exercise on an uneven surface.Single-Leg Deadlift: Stand on one leg and bend forward at the hips. Lift your other leg and stretch it out behind you until it’s at a 90° angle to the leg you are standing on.  Exercises to increase jump strength:Jump Lunges: Switch sides as you jump into these lunges. Single-Leg Jump: Stand on one leg and jump up and down or move forward as you jump. Speed Skater: Jump sideways from one leg to the other quickly like a speed skater. Box Jumps: Jump up onto a raised surface with both legs. (Want to become a box jump pro? Check out our box jump blog post.)4. Start slowly Since trail running usually involves a lot of uneven surfaces, your legs will get stronger than running on the road. Your body has to burn more energy to deal with the constant changes in conditions and surfaces. Take it easy on your first trail runs and keep it slow, so you aren’t gasping for breath right away. Over time you can start playing with different speeds on a variety of terrain (like fartlek). 5. Choose the right trail running shoesThe running shoes you wear for the road are fine for flat surfaces. But as soon as you start running steeper trails, you should think about getting shoes with good grip. Remember:Don’t tie your shoes too tight but snug enough so that you don’t slide around in them. Tuck the big loops of your laces into the lacing, so they don’t catch on branches. There is a variety of trail running gear available to make your experience more enjoyable. You can store drinks or energy bars in special running packs, in case you are out for a longer run. Caution — eyes on the ground! Unlike when you run on the road, trails are full of hazards: roots, loose stones, or the wet, slippery forest floor make it essential to watch where you’re going when you run.Would you like to learn more about trail running? We have the Top 3 Beginner Tips from the Pros for you.*** More