5 Simple tips to help you master trail running

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If you’re the type of person who loves exploring off the beaten path and seeing how much of the world you can enjoy and experience with your own two feet, you’re probably also the type of person who’d really love trail running.

Trail Running Tips

Many people, runners included, don’t realize that there’s this great big world of opportunity available to people who run trails. It’s really pretty amazing once you realize that you can experience the world in a completely different way by running than if you were to simply drive through it or fly over it.

trail running tips

But I’ve never run a step in my life, you may lament. I get it. Not everyone is born a runner or particularly enjoys trail running. However, I think most everyone who tries trail running really will enjoy it. If not, be sure to check out our hiking guide for tips and advice on trail hiking.

Trail running is most often characterized by its more laid-back vibes, especially compared to road running. Plus, it’s very common for trail runners to run, walk, and hike during the course of any given jaunt, depending on the terrain. You don’t have the have a world-class level of athleticism to be a trail runner.

So where to begin? Below, I’ll describe in detail some tips that’ll set you on the right path and that will help you to successfully run trails for the first time ever.

The trail running tips include the following:


Whether you’re running trails close to home or in a country far, far away, it’ll behoove you to do some research first. See what’s out there and what your options are. If you’re uncertain, do the obvious, and go consult a map and google. Anytime you see big swaths of green will probably be a safe assumption that it’s a forest preserve or trail system. The same goes for bodies of water; many times, there are adjacent trail systems or paths nearby.

Whether you’re running up a mountain or a long-haul trail, check out our guide on nutrition for outdoor activities.

Trail Running

Consult the local experts

Especially when you’re getting started, whether you’re at home or on holiday, it’ll help you to consult the local experts for their advice and pointers. Swallow your pride, and ask for help. Runners love to talk running with other runners, and they often love to show-off how much they know! Indulge them, and soak it all in. In time, you, too, will become a sort of local expert, and then you’ll be able to pay it forward.

Join a local trail running club

Some good internet research should point you in the direction of local trail running clubs with whom you can connect. If you’re running locally, these people may fast become your best friends, the people with whom you spend your time each weekend. If you’re traveling, connecting with a local club can be a way for you to meet the local population and ask them questions about what it’s like to live and run there, wherever it is that you’re visiting. Locals typically have insider knowledge that tourists and visitors lack, so take advantage of this opportunity to learn as much as you can.

You can often find local trail running clubs by asking around at your local running shop or finding clubs that use Meetup.com or some of your favorite trail running apps may feature running groups such as Runkeeper, Strava, and Endomondo or a GPS tracker like Gaia.

Use the stuff you already have

It can be tempting to go out and buy all new “stuff” for your trail running exploits, but I discourage you from doing so. Chances are likely that you already have a lot of stuff that you can already use. Instead, rely on some good ol’ fashioned trial and error to see if there is anything that you should replace or upgrade. You may be surprised to find, for example, that you’d be better off spending money on different (read: taller) socks than on trail shoes. Resist the urge to be a consumer until later!

Trail Running Guide

Have a ton of fun and enjoy the journey.

Finally, when you’re running trails for the first time ever, I implore you: have fun with it! It is such an amazing experience, and you may be blown away by how awesome it is to run freely through some of nature’s finest wonders, discovering the world at large with your own two feet. Take pictures and videos, go as quickly or slowly as you want — just remember to savor each step of the journey!

With these tips, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to go forth and enjoy your experience of running trails for the first time in your life. It may be one of the most transformational experiences of your life, too, if you let it. Go in with an open mind, and savor every part of the exploration.

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Trail Running Tips

What are your favorite tips for trail running? We love feedback, post your comments below!

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About the author

I’m a 40 something father of two girls who loves the mountains, still plays in the sand, and enjoys being in the great outdoors. The mountains are always calling my name.

“Wilderness is a necessity” – John Muir

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