Article & photos by: Nick Tortajada
It’s Here! Spring! The days start to get a bit longer, the temperatures begin to rise, the landscape comes back to life, and your favorite outdoor trails are calling out to you! Arguably the best season for trail running, Spring comes with its own set of challenges. Before lacing up this season, run through this checklist to make the most of your Spring Trail Running!
Respect Your Trails
The transition from winter into spring means there will be a lot of water runoff from snow and beautiful spring sun showers. This could leave some of your trails soft and muddy. For the sake of protecting muddy trails, the Leave No Trace Organization suggests completely avoiding them altogether until the ground is dry. However, sometimes muddy areas are unavoidable. It is recommended to run straight through the middle of them rather than trying to go off-trail to get around them to minimize damage.
Dress in Layers
Temperatures and weather can fluctuate quickly during this season, so layer up your clothing to make sure you stay warm and dry out there. Layering for Spring consists of 3 layers: base layer, mid-layer, and outer shell.
The base layer adds a little warmth and pulls sweat away from your body. Look for technical fabrics such as Merino Wool or polyester. These moisture-wicking fabrics will keep you dry and hold in a bit of warmth.
The main purpose of the mid-layer is to keep you insulated and warm. These can range anywhere from a zipped fleece or vest to a down jacket. If it is cold enough, you can double up the mid-layer. Keep in mind that anything insulated with down will pack down the lightest and keep you the warmest. However, if there is any chance of moisture, down will lose most of its insulating properties.
The outer shell is designed to keep you protected from the elements like rain or wind. Just as the main purpose of the base layer is to pull the water vapor away from your skin, the shell allows it to escape your body while preventing moisture from getting in.
Keep Your Feet Happy
Your shoes are your most important piece of gear when it comes to trail running during any season, but there are some definite considerations for Spring. Find a shoe that has enough stability and support to keep your ankles protected if the trail becomes muddy or soft. Look for shoes that are breathable to regulate your foot temperature. If your favorite trails are in a very wet climate, consider getting waterproof shoes to keep your feet dry while running.
Blisters are common in hot and humid feet because the moisture in your shoe creates friction. While breathable shoes are essential, wearing the proper socks will help prevent pain and irritation. There are tons of technical socks designed specifically for running with features such as padding in different parts of your foot, odor control, and sweat-wicking properties. Choose one that best meets your needs.
Stay Hydrated and Replenished
Since the temperatures are rising, it is easy to become dehydrated while out on the trails. Drinking diluted sports drinks or taking hydration pills before, during, and after your run will provide your body with the greatest mix of electrolyte replacement and rehydration. Using a hydration backpack ensures you have enough water and also gives you space to stash your clothing layers and keys.
All The Small Things
Depending on your location, your skin type, the length of your average runs, and a myriad of other variables, there are many accessories you may need to have in your trail running kit. Along with my clothing, shoes, and hydration backpack, I keep essentials such as a headlamp, a hat, sunscreen, lip balm, and snacks. It’s best to be overprepared when you’re playing with the elements and dancing with mother nature.
Spring only comes once a year and quickly turns into summer, so quit wasting time and go make the best of it!