Your Guide To Trail Running

Trail running is a great alternative to the roads. Find out how and why you should make trail running a part of your running sessions.

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Want to try trail running? You should. Trail running can improve your running performance and is becoming increasingly popular as a good alternative to road running. The popularity of trail running can be seen from the fact that most shoe manufacturers now make at least one trail running shoe and there are new trail races emerging all the time. Maybe it's time you got on the trail ...

How to get started in trail running

It's easy for boredom to set into your training, especially if you are entering the same races and training on the same old tired routes. Not only that, but your body is taking a pounding with all that running on hard surfaces. So maybe it’s time you gave yourself a new challenge and find out how to get into trail running, where you can train harder and for  longer whilst boosting your running motivation.

Trail running is a great alternative to road running, so if you're thinking of giving it a go, consider the following advice:

  • Invest in the proper trail shoes. If you plan to spend any significant time on trails, a pair of trail running shoes will make all the difference. These shoes will provide the necessary support that will be needed for off-road running. Visit your nearest running specialty shop to see which shoe is best for you.
  • Research the trail beforehand. It is probably not the best idea to just head out on an unfamiliar trail. Many of these trails can be confusing, so take the time locate it on a map, or bring a compass with you when you start. You can find these maps in running specialty stores, on the internet, or from local running clubs.
  • Run with a partner or group. Not only will you find the run more enjoyable, you will be less likely to get lost if you have two or more people running the same trail.
  • Always look two steps ahead. It is important to always keep an eye out for obstacles that may be on the trail. Unlike road running, trail running takes a special focus. Taking your eye of the terrain for just a moment could result in a twisted ankle.
  • Wear the proper clothing. Regardless of the season, trail running requires a different wardrobe than road running. Long sleeve shirts and leggings will keep your arms and legs protected from the brush and branches that may be along the trail. A bright hat is also helpful. It will keep bugs out of your hair, and make you visible on the trail.
  • Take something to drink. There will most likely not be anywhere to get a drink on the trail, so bring some with you. You should be drinking around 200ml (about 7oz) of fluid for every 20 minutes of activity.
  • Think time and not mileage. Don’t worry about the distance of the trail. It is going to be difficult to figure out exactly how far the trail is, unless it has already been mapped out for you or you're using a GPS device. Measure your run by time and effort spent on the trail.
  • Look out for bikers on trails. Be cautious coming up on hills and turns, and realize that mountain bikers may not be looking out for you. This is where the bright hat comes in handy.
  • Leave the trail like you found it. What makes trails such great places to train is the natural beauty that surrounds them. Please leave the trail just like you found it, and enjoy your time spent on the trails.