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Trail running tips for beginners

KMD HK JAA1550 RT

If you're new to trail running, here are some helpful tips to get you started and keep you motivated.

Getting started

Talk to your GP: if you’re starting any fitness programme or something outside of your comfort zone, a consultation to your GP is a great place to start.

Gear up: buy a pair of good trail running shoes with increased ankle protection and improved traction. You’ll also need breathable layers for the outdoors – remember, weather can and does change quickly. Invest in gear that will keep you safe and help you perform.

Start slow: you’ll run slower than you will on pavement or the treadmill, so take it easy. If you’re new to trail running (or not a seasoned runner), try running 3 x 10 minutes, then 2 x 15 and 2 x 20 – that’s 30 or 40 minutes of running all up, and it will help increase your base fitness as you get used to running on trails. When you feel ready, start increasing your time / distance 10% each time.

Find your routes: before you head off at pace, walk the trails you’re planning on running and make note of the terrain (this is a great way to acclimatise to uneven terrain if you’ve mainly been running on a treadmill).

Make friends: join a trail running group – fellow enthusiasts will motivate you and running in pairs or a group is safer than running alone.

On the go

Walk the hills: trail runners say only the road runners sprint up the steep hills. Maximise your energy by walking the steep hills and making up time on the downhill side.

Style matters: run slower and shorten your stride.

Lift your feet: rocks and roots have a sneaky habit of snatching at dragging feet, so add that extra clearance.

Scan the ground:cast your eyes about 10 feet down the track and look around for upcoming obstacles. Don’t look at your feet.

Keep a weather eye: wear or pack layers of clothing, even on a sunny day.

Be safe: trail running is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it pays to be prepared. Follow the usual basic safety steps: always let people know where you’re going and when to expect you back, carry a phone or a locator beacon, keep a first-aid kit in the car or in your pack, know the environment you’re running in and stay hydrated.


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