running trail photo

Like all forms of running, trail running is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. But in addition, trail running provides certain other particular advantages, including the opportunity to explore nature, work different sets of muscles, and improve running technique.

More runners should give trail running a shot.

However, before a runner tries trail running, there are certain things they should know. Here are five practical tips for starting trail running.

1. Wear the right gear. Generally, the same gear used in regular running is also suitable for trail running. However, a runner should certainly make sure that their shoes fit and are still in acceptable condition, especially since trail running can be very rough on footwear.

Since trail running can also be messy, a runner should also only wear clothes that they won’t care about getting dirty, torn, or wet. Depending upon the season and location, the use of bug spray might be required as well.

2. Stay safe. Since trail running often takes a runner into the wild, it can be slightly more dangerous than urban running. Runners should make sure they know exactly what path they will be following.

Bringing along a GPS and/or a map is also an excellent idea. Another good precaution is telling a friend where they are planning to go. Bringing along water is also smart when trail running.

3. Don’t worry so much about performance. Trail running, which offers such a wonderful chance to enjoy the beauty of the natural world, is oriented towards a more laid-back approach to running.

After all, variation in elevation and terrain means that comparing times from one trail to another doesn’t make much sense anyway. When trail running, it is better to simply focus on and enjoy the experience itself.

4. Start slowly. The motions involved in trail running differ from those in road running. Running on a trail requires a wider variety of movements, thanks to the existence of barriers, uneven terrain, and inclines and declines.

This means that for a beginner, it’s important to increase pace and distance only gradually, allowing the body (especially the foot muscles) time to properly adjust to these unfamiliar motions. Plenty of recovery time is crucial too. Otherwise, injury risk may be increased.

Final Thoughts

Trail running can be a fantastic experience. Not only do many people find it more enjoyable and meaningful than flat-surface running, but it also has certain crucial advantages over normal running.

This is more reason, then, for those who are interested in trail running to make sure to follow the proper precautions when first starting out. Simply following the four tips seen above is all that is needed.