If you're running a mile or not running at all, but determined to increase your distance, Out and Back has some helpful tips to get your started.
The move to longer distance trail running and ultras may appear daunting but it needn't be. Just a little extra thought and preparation can make the transition easy.
Here are a few considerations if you're keen to broaden your running horizons:
Being physically ready: The additional distance and variable terrain will introduce a greater physical challenge. Working on running specific strength & conditioning exercises before increasing distance or changing terrain can help toward injury prevention. Consider adding single-leg exercises to your strength sessions such as multi-directional lunges, deadlifts, split squats, skips and hops.
Footwear: If you've only ever worn a traditional road shoe, consider purchasing an all terrain or trail shoe. A specialist shoe will provide additional grip and protection when running on uneven trails and negotiating wet bridges, rocks and exposed tree roots. If you are contemplating a move up to ultra distance, you will also need to decide whether your chosen shoe provides sufficient comfort for long, sustained running. Ensure that you test any new shoe for comfort and fit on shorter outings first before using for longer runs or races.
Anti-chafe: Additional time on your feet increases the probability of friction injuries. Applying anti-chafe cream before a long run will create a protective barrier to protect you from any clothing or equipment repetitively rubbing against your skin and causing nasty, uncomfortable lacerations. Your feet, inner thighs, underarms, nipples and neck are particularly vulnerable to these chafing mishaps on long outings.
Difference in terrain: One of the most enjoyable features of trail running is the variety of scenery and terrain. However, changeable ground underfoot brings the need for additional vigilance and concentration. You'll need to have your wits about you in forested areas or on steep descents because of additional trip and slip hazards (think exposed tree roots and damp rock). Practising how you will negotiate these features at slower speeds will help you to build confidence and challenge yourself at speed.
Preparation: As you begin to select routes that provide an increased challenge and a chance to explore more remote areas, it's no longer as simple as just throwing your shoes on and heading out of the door with only your key. Research your route in advance using an online route planner. Work out how much fuel & water you will need. On the run, take a ziploc bag with a phone in case of emergency or becoming lost and a payment card should you need to use public transportation or purchase additional food. Hand sanitiser and tissues can also be useful in case of unplanned toilet stops which may happen on longer runs. A light trail running backpack or ultra vest will assist with carrying these items.
Hopefully these small considerations will assist you during your first off-road running adventures!