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5 tips for new (or returning) trail runners

Here's what you need to know to hit the trails with confidence this season

trail runner in France

If you’re used to speeding along roads and smooth paths, heading out for some dirt therapy can be intimidating. Whether you’re a newbie lacing up for the first time or a seasoned runner making a triumphant return to the trails, we have the tips to make your off-road adventures easy and stress-free.

focused man running on trails

Enjoy the dirt, forget the pace

If you’re accustomed to chasing pace goals on smooth roads, trail running might throw you a curveball. The uneven terrain and varying inclines can make pace monitoring futile. Instead, focus on running by effort, tuning in to your rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Practise paying attention to how hard you are working and embrace the fluctuations in speed, as you relish the challenge of conquering nature’s obstacles.

Group of people trail running on a mountain path

Plot your path wisely

Before embarking on a trail excursion, take a moment to carefully plan your route. Opt for beginner-friendly trails initially, gradually ramping up the difficulty as your confidence grows. If you’re venturing solo, ensure you have a clear understanding of the trail’s layout and potential cell reception spots. Always inform a trusted friend or family member about your whereabouts and estimated return time.

MapMyRun UA

Gear up for adventure

As you delve deeper into the world of trail running, equipping yourself with the right gear is a worthwhile idea. Invest in trail-specific shoes with robust traction to tackle tricky terrain with confidence, and consider adding a hydration vest to your arsenal, complete with ample pockets for stashing snacks, drinks and essential gear. A lightweight rain jacket can also prove invaluable for unexpected weather shifts.

What to pack for long-distance trail runs

Cultivate trail awareness

Trekking on trails demands heightened awareness of your surroundings. Stay vigilant for potential hazards like rocks, roots and uneven terrain to avoid stumbling or injury. While it can be easy to tune out on long road runs, trail running requires keeping a keen eye for trail markers and signage to navigate unfamiliar routes effectively.

person running uphill on trails

Embrace the elements

While basking in the warmth of a bluebird day is undeniably delightful, venturing to the trails demands readiness for any weather twist, whether it’s scorching sun or pouring rain. Prioritize lightweight, moisture-wicking attire that shields you from the sun’s rays and dries quickly. Don’t forget to apply sun protection, and sport a hat and sunglasses for added defense. Though pre-run preparations may feel like a chore, the assurance of trail safety and a contingency plan will liberate your mind to relish every moment of your outdoor escapade.

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