Trail running is about running away from asphalt roads and out into nature, like in the forest along small paths. Nature offers unique training opportunities. In 10 best reasons to start trail running with confidence, we go through the benefits and actions in trail running. In the forest, you can forget time and place, enjoy the peace and stay focused on the beautiful surroundings, rather than GPS-watch indications of pace. You will run up hills, in mud, run slalom along narrow paths or whatever the forest can offer of great challenges.
How to start trail running
Maybe the weekly running training on the treadmill, along the asphalt road or in the city, has become too one-sided and not quite as inspiring and challenging as it has been? So, to create a little variety as cross training, you can go out into the beautiful nature and try out trail running.
You will definitely get out of your comfort zone, but we believe, you will not regret it. The trail run is both fun and challenging. You can start with the running shoes and the running clothes that you use on a daily basis. On your first trail runs, you should just try it out, so you get a sense of what it’s all about.
If you are inspired by trail running and want to continue more seriously, you can always invest in a pair of good trail shoes that will make it more fun when the forest is muddy, the surface technically demanding, and where you often have to focus more on the next step, as the forest is uneven and more unpredictable than “straight out of the asphalt road”.
Facts about trail running
Trail running differs thus from regular running on asphalt and other flat surfaces. You run primarily in the forest and on hills – or simply across an area, if the terrain allows it in the slightly rawer nature. Trail running creates variety and gives both physical and mental demands. You are present here and now. You often need to do this for not to lose the balance, fall or land wrong on the next step.
- One of the oldest trail races in the US is the Dipsea Race in California, which began in 1904 as a bet and already the following year became an official race. The race has a distance of 7,4 miles starting in Mill valley and finishing in Stinson Beach. The race is considered one of the most beautiful races in the world.
- The US, together with the United Kingdom, is the leading nation in trail running and has in recent years created more focus on this type of race. The best trail routes in US 2021 according to themanual.com are chosen by professional runners. In UK the best trail run routes could be from UK – Best trail runs
Why Start Trail Running
Maybe you’re still considering whether starting trail running is something for you! so below are the 10 best reasons to start trail running with confidence from my running buddies and my own experiences about what you can expect to get out of it:
1. Great strength training for the whole body
When you run up and down the hills, you use your whole body in a very dynamic and versatile way compared to when you run on a flat asphalt road. To get up the hills you need to use buttocks, hocks, calf and feet to get a powerful starting point in every step that can bring you up the hill.
At the same time, you need to tense up the muscles in the back and abdomen to maintain a good running technique and transfer the power from your starting point to an upward force. It makes trail running to a fantastic full-body training that simultaneously strengthens your coordination and running technique.
2. Trail running are gentle on the body
There are many good reasons to run away from the city and into the green. Running in the woods and nature are far more varied and do not give the same monotonous impact as regular running on flat surfaces does. In return, it requires a greater work of the muscles that provide balance and that our feet, knees and hips are properly positioned. But once you have the strength and balance, you will typically experience fewer overload injuries, as trail running to a much lesser extent affects the body in the same place over and over again.
3. Trail running makes you faster
Interval running is the way forward if you want to improve your fitness, become faster and strengthen your running performance. Nature is your trainer when it comes to interval running. Because you follow the height variations that come in front of you and then you are sure to get variations in your heart rate rate too. Start slow and in the beginning, it may be a good idea to take a break on the top of the hills and get your breathing back on track.
Over time you will get control of the technique and fitness, you will be able to control your breathing down the hills and thus keep a flow in your run. You will hopefully find out that intervals that used to be hard are far more fun, more versatile and more playful out in the woods.
4. The Variation in Trail running makes you stronger
The variation in trail running puts your whole body to work, activates and strengthens far more muscles than regular asphalt running. Balance is a very important factor and the efforts to maintain it when the surface changes and there are obstacles in front of you, get all small and large muscles in both legs and upper body at work. The uneven surface and height variation will over time strengthen the ankles, tendons and joints and make you a stronger runner also, when you return to the asphalt, you will feel your new strength and surplus.
The vast majority of elite runners use trail- or cross running as an important part of their training. Trail running is thus a super “full-body workout” for all types of runners, but as it is with all training: the body must be trained and become accustomed to new challenges and this also applies to trail running.
5. Your running technique sharpens
The varying surface with sloping hills, mud, rocks, roots will constantly put demands on your balance skills, your strength and your technique. You will quickly take slightly shorter and faster steps to adapt to the challenges you meet along the way.
Try to relax your body and trust that your feet intuitively will adapt to the surface you are running on. Then when you get out on a flat path again, you will experience how easy it suddenly feels when the terrain does not slow you down anymore, and your body works with strength and surplus.
6. Trail run Boosts your fitness
Not only do you get a stronger body and a more efficient running technique, but you also get better fitness! Your heart rate gets up in the red area, every time you reach the top of a hill. Trail running thus works as great interval training, which is by far the most effective shortcut to boost your fitness.
7. Where do you want to perform trail running?
Ask others who practice trail running where the best trails are found in your local area. Route planners on the Internet, where you can create your own running routes, can give good suggestions. On ex. Trail routes you can find route suggestions in your area. You can also search in google on trail run routes in your country with e.g., “Best trail run routes in Your country here“. I think you will be surprised by the opportunities.
8. Trail Running and Shoe choice
What is the right running shoe when you have to run on the uneven, muddy and demanding surface of the forest? The choice of trail shoes depends incredibly much on the surface you run on. Many runners choose to run in the woods in a pair of regular running shoes without grips in the outsole.
But if you run into the terrain, away from the wide forest paths, where the ground is soft, muddy and uneven, then you should consider a pair of real trail shoes. Salomon Speedcross 5 Men’s Trail Running Shoes or Salomon Speedcross 5 Women’s Trail Running Shoes for women. These are one of the best all-round trail shoes on the market and will be a good choice as a beginner, where you try out different terrains.
9. Equipment to trail running
Once you start up and become a trail runner for a period of time, you can decide that this is something for you in the future. At this point, you should also consider investing in some equipment that makes trail running in the woods even more fun.
Shoes: Ordinary running shoes can be used on larger and wider paths, but if you run on less passable areas, it may be a good idea to get a pair of trail shoes. They are more robust and provide a good and secure grip on the uneven and often unpredictable surface of the forest.
Clothes: Ordinary running clothes also work fine in the woods. But be aware that you can easily get very dirty and your clothes can be torn apart by branches.
Headlamp: You can run in nature around the clock, but once it gets dark, it is REALLY dark in the forest. Therefore, it will be a good idea to have a headlamp or flashlight. Look for one of the more powerful headlamps, preferably with more than 1,000 lumens, if you do not want to be limited by the darkness.
10. Trail running sharpens your awareness
When you perform trail running, it will be a good idea to forget about your normal pace and finish times. Now it’s more about how much time you have available and how far you can get around – not how fast it goes. The primary thing is experiences and impressions.
You get the opportunity to find peace and become more aware of your surroundings when all the senses are stimulated. You get a better mental focus, but certainly also a physical focus when you constantly have to pay attention to the surface in front of you. It sharpens the awareness and demands the right focus of choice of route through the obstacles.
Key points in Starting Trail Running
Trail running is a really good alternative as cross training to your other running training on asphalt. It creates some special physical and mental frames. You will experience increased motivation and mental free space on your trail runs as well as a special way to create communication between body and mind. You need to focus 5-6 meters forward to constantly respond and coordinate your movements. It’s more about experiences than pace.
Furthermore, it is a form of interval training with many pace shifts, which boosts your fitness. Trail running prevents injuries. You become stronger and more resilient as you develop muscles and balance from the many different actions you have to take along the way, that challenges new sides of yourself.
In short, trail running is fun, challenging, motivating and a fantastic full-body training – everyone can participate and achieve great experiences in nature, beginners as well as experienced runners. So, if you have difficulty getting out on your regular runs or just need change/variation, then try trail running.
I hope you get something out of this post and if you have any questions about this topic or want to leave your own Personal review, please leave a comment below.