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Trail running tips for beginners


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.