I love trail running in the fall. It is the best time of year for getting outdoors. The air is cool, the leaves are gorgeous colours and the weather is usually pleasant.
Anyone can learn how to run. I taught myself how to run by alternating one block of walking and one block of running. I was not in great shape at the time, but I slowly built up my endurance levels to eventually run marathons and do a half Ironman.
These days, my runs are gentler and shorter (around eight kilometres) but my love for running is still going strong!
Recently, I spoke with Ian Adam Smith MacNairn, an ultra runner from Calgary, Alberta, and a The North Face athlete.
Ian shared his tips on how to start running, how to pick the best shoes for your feet and much more.
How do you pick the best runners for your feet?
The best runners for your feet are the ones that fit, the ones that feel comfortable and the ones that can help inspire you to run, wherever that may be. Shoes are designed with a particular intent for a particular type of running -- trail, road, track, racing, or training. This is a great place to start when attempting to determine what is the best pair for your feet.
Do you need different runners for trails and the road?
Many runners transition between trail and road with the same pair of shoes. This works well for many trails if those trails are fairly non-technical and are hard-packed -- similar, in a sense, to a soft road. For these types of trails most road shoes will suffice. When trails become more technical -- rooty, rocky, loose and steep -- trail shoes shine.
Top tips for someone new to running?
Selecting clothing and footwear for running is an inherently personal and intimate endeavor. I suggest spending some time exploring the various styles of footwear and apparel prior to investing. Thinking about where and when you will be running can help in this selection process. Winter and summer apparel has some crossover but the required pieces can be vastly different.
For clothing -- how to choose the best outerwear for running in the fall and winter?
Running in the fall and winter means running in colder temperatures than in spring and summer. Also, it means running in more rain or snow than encountered at other times of year. Despite this, you will always produce heat and sweat. Therefore, it is imperative that you mitigate being wet and, consequently, cold as best as possible. My top tip is to avoid cotton products altogether!
Again, consider your comfort with natural and synthetic fibers. Merino wool is very comfortable and can come in a variety of weights. It has great cooling and heat-retaining properties, making it a great choice year-round. Synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon have the great benefit of wicking sweat well, are typically quite durable, and can dry very quickly.
Whether you choose natural, synthetic, or some combination of both, it is ideal to layer. I run wearing a base layer followed by a outer layer.
Having good accessories is crucial. Headgear ranges from something as lightweight as a Buff up to a heavy wool or fleece toque. These pieces can also be windproof and water-resistant. Gloves or mitts are a must, for most, throughout the year.
The advice for fingers is the same for feet and toes. Warm and dry feet can be the difference between misery and joy on a winter run. There are many brands that make excellent socks that are comfortable and warm and have great wicking properties.
It is a great practice to carry a backup emergency layer if you plan an all-day (or even multi-hour) outing in the winter. I carry a base layer bottom and top as well as a fresh pair of socks stowed in my pack in a waterproof plastic bag on long trips.
If you can purchase one item to start running what would it be?
I would purchase a pair of shoes that is comfortable and fits well. The perfect pair helps me feel fast and excited to get outside and run. And, the perfect shoe makes all the difference when the road turns to trail turns to mountain slope.
How to care for your runners when they get wet, muddy, and smelly?
I rinse my shoes outside with a hose when they are dirty and muddy. If only the sole is dirty, I simply scrape and wash the bottoms. If the entire shoe gets nasty I scrub and rinse the whole thing. I remove the insole and rinse it separately.
The easiest way I have found to dry my shoes is by leaving the insole out and stuffing a piece or two of newspaper into the shoe. The newsprint works exceptionally well in drawing out the water from the inside of the upper. I place the shoes and insoles in a dry spot (ideally by the fireplace) and they are typically dry by the next day if not within a few hours.
Any other tips?
Running can be a great tool for reducing stress, providing time and space to think and meditate, connect with friends, enhance your health, and explore your mind, body and the world around you. No matter what your desire or aspiration for running nor how far or fast you run, try to find joy in your practice. You will never have the same run twice and each time you lace up your shoes is a chance to explore and find happiness.
Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let's have the very best 2015!
Visit Sacha daily at SachaD.com
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