Although your spring build-up after a winter layoff may have gone according to plan, a slew of miles under your belt doesn’t necessarily mean you can transition seamlessly to trail running. As mentioned above, the new terrain presents added challenges that are difficult to prepare for on pavement. Rather than moving your routine straight onto the dirt at the first hint of summer weather, force yourself to make the transition slowly.
Start by incorporating a few strides on grass or dirt at the end of regular runs. These strides should help to acclimate your body to the new terrain while also building speed and focusing on form. Then, swap out your easy runs during the week for trail excursions. Don’t worry about maintaining the same pace or distance. Instead, focus on running for a similar amount of time. Pace and distance can be built up as your body gets comfortable with the new environment.
After you can complete a few three to four mile runs during the week on the dirt without feeling beat up, chances are you’re ready to start building up your mileage.