How to Start Trail Running

February 21st, 2023

We love running in all its forms, whether it be running on footpaths, roads, the track, or even just on the treadmill. No matter what environment you’re in, what surface you’re on, a short jog or a long trek, they all get the endorphins flowing. Having said that, even we can admit that sometimes you need to try something new to keep things fresh and exciting. This might be where our beginner’s guide to trail running comes in.

What is Trail Running?

Pretty much as the name suggests, it’s a style of running where rather than sticking to footpaths and urban locations, you venture out into more natural environments. It’s what we used to call ‘cross country’ running. This may involve running on soft and uneven surfaces like sand, dirt and grass, and through the bush or hilly terrain. Trail running involves various levels of difficulty, from beginner trails right through to advanced technical routes.

It often involves a degree of planning before each run as running trails can lead you in all sorts of directions so it’s good to know where you are and where each path is going to take you.

What Are Some Benefits To Trail Running?

There are some real upsides to off-road running. One of the main reasons trail runners love it so much is because it keeps the running experience entertaining. Australia is full of wonderful scenery so there’s a real sense of pleasure to be had by getting out there and experiencing it all while on foot. It’s great for your mental health and it’s a game changer for your fitness—that’s why you should run uphill and downhill!

So, How To Start Trail Running

Step One

Get yourself a good pair of trail running shoes. Whilst your standard running shoes are good for the short term, as you trial whether or not you want to continue this style of running as another option, they won’t offer the support your feet and ankles need as a long term option. Your feet and ankles will be challenged as you encounter roots, rocks and possibly even slippery mud. These are why traction, foot protection and stability are what to look for in a trail running shoe, to try and limit the chances of injury.

Step Two

Now it’s time to load up on trail running gear.

Most importantly, you’ll need a good running water bottle,  and depending on the trails you’re going to embark on, hydration vests may be worth looking into. You obviously don’t want to get half way through a trail having used up your water with no taps in sight.

running water bottles

Sunscreen is also very important. Even if you slip, slop and slap before setting off, you really need to make sure you’ve got a tube in your backpack in case you’re out there a bit longer than you anticipated.

Depending on the length of your run, you may also need to take some food with you. Energy gels are always good to take on a trail run, but you also might like to take an energy bar and some trail mix to keep your tummy from rumbling.

One of the most popular running accessories is the running watch. These are great for monitoring your steps, heart rate, distance, location and other data.

running watch

Step Three

Now that you’ve got the right gear, it’s time to start planning your runs! One of the first things to keep in mind is that your pace is slower when trail running than when you’re on paved surfaces. You’ll need to keep this in mind when estimating the time you’re going to need to complete a run. This will affect the amount of food and water you’re going to want to take with you.

When you’re just starting out, you may want to stay local and keep to walking tracks that you may already be familiar with. But once you start getting more adventurous, it’s worth checking out guidebooks and websites for new trails.

Step Four

Now that you’re a little more comfortable being out in the wild, it’s time to work on your technique. Trail running technique involves:

  • Shorter strides for better balance
  • Eyes down to scan the terrain ahead
  • Swinging arms to relax your core
  • Keeping your back straight for balance and easier breathing when going up and down hills

These principles become like second nature for more experienced trail runners so after a little while you’ll barely need to think about your technique.

No Run Is Too Hard For Us

For the best range of trail running gear, including apparel, gels and other accessories, browse our online store for all the best brands. Now that you’ve got all the gear you need, all that’s left for you to do is to get out there and enjoy the trails!