Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running

Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running: Benefits, Techniques & Safety

Trail running gives runners an opportunity to break the monotony of indoor or road running while enhancing their fitness.Beginner’s Guide to Trail Running The beautiful sceneries along the trails make your whole running experience enjoyable and satisfying.

If you’re new to trail running there’re several things you need know in order to run effectively and reduce the risk of injuries. Check them here including the benefits of trail running.

Related: Best Trail Running Shoes for High Arches

How Safe is Trail Running?

The anticipation of difficult situations in trail running prompt runners to embark on thorough preparations prior to the event. Most runners even become uncertain about their safety during trail running. But how safe is trail running?

Well, trail running can both be safe and dangerous depending on your level of preparation prior to the event. Other than the difficult terrain, trail running may be associate with other risks such as getting lost, wildlife, dealing strangers and so on.

Having knowledge of the difficulties you likely to encounter allows to prepare in advance therefore making trail running less risky. A familiar trail is less risky because you already know what you need to tackle the challenges.

However, careful preparation is required if you’re going to take a new route. It’s advisable to run on trails that have already been tried by others before. The American trail running association runs trail events throughout the year with safety as one of their mission.

Benefits of Trail Running

1. Building Muscle Strength

The challenges involved during trail running tend to engage most your body muscles especially the leg muscles. The trail surfaces entail varying levels ruggedness or unevenness which enhances your stability. Stability is necessary in preventing running injuries such as pronation.

2. Calorie Burning

One of the goals of running is to fat unnecessary fat from our bodies. Luckily, trail provides adequate challenges for burning substantial amounts of calories.

3. Promotes Emotional and Mental Health

You can also refer to trail running as “Green” exercise because you run outdoors while having a view of the natural environment. A positive engagement with nature brings about mental satisfaction which contributes to emotional health.

Running outdoors is also associated with lowering stress and anxiety in the affected individuals. Plus it promotes good sleeping habits which contribute to your overall health.

4. Minimises Injury Risks

Trail surfaces tend to be a bit sympathetic for your muscles and joints than pavements and asphalt surfaces. They provide deliver a soft landing surface which prevents minimises injuries on your muscles and joints.

5. Breaks Monotony

When you run on the same road track or treadmill, you tend to get bored because of lack of variety on the surface and the environment. Tackling new challenges on trails brings variety to your running which makes your fitness endeavours more enjoyable. This gives you the enthusiasm to run more and more.

6. Opportunity to Explore

Trial running offers runners an opportunity to explore the surrounding area to see the natural sceneries. Most often you’ll realize that the natural environment is so beautiful and satisfying that you feel like spending more time in the wild.

Considerations for Trail Running

Safety Considerations

Trail running is usually associated with rugged surfaces, sharp ridges, loose debris, steep terrain, fallen branches and so on. You’re therefore very likely to fall or trip if don’t adhere to smart trail running techniques. Here are some helpful tips:

Concentration: Although you’re running along a breath-taking scenery, do not allow your mind to get distracted and forget your path. Keeping your eyes on the path ahead allows you see obstacles that you may trip on.

Don’t allow your mind to get distracted by matters concerning your family or work. Plus limit you talk with your running partners.

If you’re an unexperienced trail runner, it’s advisable to start with trails that are evenly packed. With time you’ll become comfortable on more rugged surfaces.

Speed: Trail running is meant to fitness and building on your strength no for competition. So, focusing on speed only puts you at risk of the falling or tripping on numerous vulnerabilities associated with trail running.

Running at Night: You can use headlamps for road night running but I wouldn’t recommend you tackle the trails at night. Even with the headlamp, the path may not be very clear because of the shadows from the vegetation. Plus, some wild animals tend to be very active during the night.

Overworking: Typically trail running should take two to three hours a day and not more than two days a week. Whenever your legs feel tired, it’s advisable to gradually reduce the strain by running less and reducing the elevation.

Trail Running Gear

Excellent trail running gear ensures your comfort and security while making the endeavour more enjoyable. Below is a guide for trail running gear.

Trail running shoes

Trail running shoes are designed to tackle rugged surfaces and rough conditions while giving your feet maximum protection. Their outsole entail deep treads which are meant to provide reliable grip on rough surfaces.

In addition, they should have adequate waterproofing details to keep your feet dry and comfortable.


Typical clothes for trail running need to be breathable and moisture-wicking to keep your body cool and dry. Also consider lightweight clothing to avoid burdening yourself when running.

Trail running is often associated with chilly weather and blasting wind. So you might require a waterproof and windproof jacket.


Trail running is associated with excessive sweating which leads to dehydration. For you to continue running with comfort and effectiveness, you need to a means for replenishing the lost water.

If you’re running for long, you need a hydration pack or vest or a large waistpack because of their ability to hold large amounts of water. In addition, they have plenty of pockets for carrying necessities such as energy chews, cell phone, navigation tools, wipes and so on.

Handheld bottles and small waistpacks are ideal for shorter runs because they only carry minimal amounts of water.

Running Watch

Most running watches are equipped with fitness trackers to help you monitor and achieve more effective running. A good running watch also comes with a heartrate monitor and a means for calculating the amount of calories burnt.

Also, consider a watch that is equipped with a GPS tracker to help in navigation.


If you’re running in direct sunlight, you require sunglasses that are able to shield your eyes from UV rays. In addition, they reduce eye strain and shield your eyes from flying insects and debris.


Whether or not to carry something to eat depends on the time you’re going to be out on the trails. Of course, you may not have to eat if you’re going for one hour or less trail running.

For longer runs, you can carry small and compact high energy bites such as energy bites, depending on what your stomach is comfortable with.

Where to Find Running Trails

Local Trails

If you’re a beginner trail runner, the local trails will be a great running resource.

Websites and Apps

Once you get used to local trails, you may want to look further to new and more challenging trails. You can find such trails from online resources or mobile apps. These resources provide details of such as directions, features, distance, difficulty, elevation and so on.

They may also give details of recent trips to give you a glimpse of what you should expect.

See typical trail websites here:

Guidebooks and Maps

Even with the increased use of apps and websites, guidebooks and maps are still useful resources for trails running.

They give information regarding certain trails running footpaths to enable runners plan in advance. They also provide details of previous events so that you know what to expect.

Running Clubs

Many trail runners belong to running clubs where they participate in scheduled trail events. Not only are they well versed with running trails in the locality but are also in a good place to find and explore new trails.


Running can become boring when you stick to treadmill or road running all the time. However, you can dispel the boredom by complementing your running with some trail running.

It you’re a beginner trail runner all you need to do is to choose a trail, get geared up and ensure your safety. You’ll be thrilled to see how the rugged terrain and natural environment out there delivers positive engagements for ultimate mental satisfaction.

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