You’ve been running for some time now, and really loving the experience you’re getting as you hit the local roads. You’ve increased your stamina; you’ve lost some weight and in some places you’ve gained a couple of inches where they count. Like in your calf’s, and upper thighs, which is a visual testament to your doing what’s right to strengthen your legs, both upper and lower.

You know that running gives you that feeling of accomplishment and you’ve already made the wise decision to track your progress by using a timepiece that’s geared to keep you on track as you pound those pavements. We’re talking about the Garmin Forerunner 645 GPS Running Watch
The Forerunner 645, is loaded with Features you come to expect from Garmin. It provides detailed running dynamics3 such as ground contact time balance, vertical ratio, stride length and more.

TRAINING STATUS: It acts as s performance monitoring tool that automatically evaluates your recent exercise history and performance indicators to let you know if you’re training productively, peaking or overreaching.

CONNECTED FEATURES: Includes smart notifications plus the ability to send prewritten responses to text messages, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and the ability for others to track your runs with the LiveTrack feature.

CONNECT IQ: Get free watch faces, widgets and apps from Connect IQ so you know when your Uber is arriving, can turn on the lights with the SmartThings app and more.

24/7 HR MONITORING: Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology gives you all-day heart rate monitoring at the wrist2.

GPS/GLONASS: Track even better in more challenging environments than GPS alone.

WELLNESS MONITORING: Features all-day stress tracking and relaxation-based breathing timer to help balance stress and rest.

BUILT-IN SPORTS: The running sports are just the beginning because there is also built-in support for cycling, pool swimming, row, elliptical, cardio and more.

CUSTOM WORKOUTS: Download or create your own custom running, cycling, cardio or strength workouts, and download them to your watch.

Now with you already having a great tool like the Garmin Forerunner 645 here are a few tips to get you off those paved roads and up into the hills and mountains that provide you with a vista that you just can’t see when pounding those pavements.

Most individuals who are just learning how to start running are unfortunately intimidated by trail running. They picture technical trails or are afraid of injuries like sprained ankles because of the uneven terrain. But trail running isn’t more difficult. It can reduce your stress levels, be even more enjoyable and provide welcomed relief from the drudgery of road running.

Here’s how to prep for your first off-road trail running adventure.

Running Form Matters on the Trails
To properly manage obstacles, you’ll face on the trails, such as roots, rocks, sticks and other debris, it’s best to run with a quicker stride. Most runners have a cadence, or stride, under 170 steps per minute.

That’s dangerous on the trails when a longer stride results in more instability and a higher likelihood of injury. Make sure your cadence is at least 170, but preferably closer to 180. This higher stride rate allows you to better navigate the undulating surface. Which is really the norm when you get off those roads and have to deal with down tree branches and scattered stones and boulders.

It’s also important to maintain good posture while trail running. Because of the uneven terrain, you need to remain in an “athletic posture” with a tall back—no slouching.

A higher cadence and a tall, erect posture will fix most other running form flaws like aggressive heel striking and over-striding, both of which are risky on the trails. Keeping yourself looking forward will also allow you to view any obstacles that may be coming your way down that trail your running!

Patience Is Critical
Not all trails are technical or littered with obstacles like holes and fallen logs. But you’ll likely encounter much more debris than you would on a city sidewalk.

The terrain probably also has more winding turns and quick elevation changes than any road you’ve run on before. To safely cover ground on the trails, you might need to slow down to manage all of this.

Particularly on downhills, reducing your speed will help you avoid running injuries. With a smooth surface and virtually no debris, roads are much more predictable. Running the same speed on an unfamiliar trail could set you up for an accident if you’re not careful.

Focus on the trail in front of you; it will reduce your risk of tripping, running into a tree or log, rolling an ankle, or falling flat on your face. Stay patient, enjoy the scenery (but stay focused), slow down, and enjoy yourself.

Two Mistakes Road Runners Make on the Trails

The pace is not nearly as important as the effort of the run, which might be higher due to the elevation changes, terrain and the type of obstacles you encounter.

Finally, it’s important to note that you do not need trail running shoes to start trail running. Just lace up your normal running shoes and you’re good to go. Unless you’re summiting a steep, technical mountain trail, any road running shoe will work just as well off-road.

So get off the asphalt, wave goodbye to traffic, and hit the trails.