A Trail Running Guide For Triathletes

Trail running brings benefits for both body and mind. Different topographies will test your physical strength, while still being able to marvel at the captivating scenery of nature without any outside disruptions (unless, of course, you wish to listen to your preferred running podcast).

Trail running can be a great way to rekindle your enthusiasm for running when you’re feeling that the same routes and workouts are becoming uninteresting and dull.

The following are some of the advantages that running on a trail can provide both physically and mentally.

Benefits of Trail Running for the Body

Viewing trail running from a physical perspective, the trails’ softer surfaces are kinder to your joints because some of the shocks are reduced.

With a range of impediments to climb and traverse, the paths will test your ability to conform, compelling you to adjust the way you walk and the distance of your strides to suit the terrain.

Hiking trails provide an effective means to improve balance and construct stamina in muscles that you have not used before.

Keeping your running pace at a moderate level can help to prevent injuries that are usually caused by regularly pounding on the road.

Hiking trails with inclines, dips, twists and turns, and extreme altitude will push your body to move in different ways.

Benefits of Trail Running for the Mind

It has been widely established in research that being in the forest is beneficial for one’s mental health. Tension and worry seem to vanish more rapidly when outside rather than inside.

Studies repeatedly indicate that being out in nature is beneficial for one’s mental health and cognitive capabilities – not to mention the gorgeous vistas. When you go for a walk on the trails, you can solely concentrate on taking one step after the other in a place that provides a mental and spiritual boost.

The mindset of trail running can be quite different from road running:

  • Runners often adopt a more relaxed, easy-going approach, using it as a way to balance the ultra-competitive attitude of road running.
  • Trail running is seen as a more meditative approach to running and exercise, offering the chance to get in tune with nature physically and spiritually.

Taking up trail running offers liberation from the pressures of meeting numerical goals, and a chance to explore a mindful encounter with nature away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Reasons to Fall In Love with Trail Running

Michael Wardian is an accomplished marathoner and ultra-runner, having achieved success in the most demanding ultra races around the globe and set a variety of world records. He is quite knowledgeable concerning trail running, so in the following, he provides some suggestions that any trail runner should heed.

Soft surface

Trail running allows you to navigate a softer terrain, making it less likely to sustain overuse injuries and reducing the amount of force absorbed by your body as you up your mileage.

Change of pace

The landscape of the tracks encourages running at a steadier rate, which can give your body time to become accustomed to the different speeds, imprinting on it a new habit.

Getting dirty

It’s terrific to get a bit messy and caked in mud. It makes you feel primal and visceral.

Building toughness

Running on the trails makes you a grittier runner. Trail running tests your agility and self-control, requiring you to be mindful of where you step and how quickly or slowly you move. You will have to navigate steep inclines and descent, but your fellow runners are typically very motivating and affirming.

Trail Running Tips and Advice for Beginners

In a nutshell, the first step to beginning trail running is to find a suitable track nearby and hit it for your next jog. Below are some pointers to help you begin trail running.

Read on if you’re puzzled by any of these questions:

  • How to find trails near me?
  • What trail running gear do I need?
  • What to keep in mind on the trails?

1. Find a Trail and Pick a Route

Maps available at park entrances may show some of the trails, whereas other routes are not indicated. Exploring fresh pathways is one of the adrenaline-filled facets of trail running, regardless of their state of upkeep.

When you’re going out on a trail you have never run on before, it can be intimidating not knowing what lies ahead. To make your hikes more secure and enjoyable, you can look into using some apps which can locate trails in your area.

2. Find the Right Shoes

Shoes are the main gear consideration for trail runners. If you’re starting out with a gentle run on a dirt road, your normal trainers should suffice; however, when you move onto more difficult paths with roots, rocks and mud, you’ll soon realise that proper trail-running shoes may be essential.

How are trail-running shoes different? Trail-running shoes are usually heavier-duty than road-running shoes, with an emphasis on improving grip, safeguarding the foot, and providing greater equilibrium.

It is similar to the contrast between the tires of a mountain bike and a road bike. For trail running, there exists a variety of footwear that is ideal for adhering to both straightforward and well-maintained trails as well as areas with difficult and diverse surfaces.

You have the option to wear minimalistic shoes that permit you to have maximum control over the path and your movements, or you can select shoes with lots of padding to reduce the strain on your body when on long runs.

3. Gear Up

If you’re planning on going for a trail run, it’s essential to remember to take some must-have items with you since it’s not quite the same as running on the road. This will make sure you have the best possible protection and convenience while you are out on the path.

Here are a few items you should consider:

4. Smartphone

In those rare cases when you become disoriented or hurt while hiking, a mobile phone can be used to call for assistance. This will permit you to keep in touch with your family members and inform them of when you anticipate returning.

5. Map

In case your phone loses connection when travelling to a remote area, it’s wise to bring along a map of the area as a precaution.

6. Hydration pack

It is essential to make sure that you have an adequate supply of energy when running for extended periods. You should take water with you as you won’t have access to any drinking fountains along the pathway. A hydration pack designed specifically for running on a trail will make it simple to bring all of your necessities along.

7. Trail running shoes

Trainers designed specifically for trail running will provide more grip and steadiness on uneven terrain while also keeping your feet secure from sharp stones and possible risks.

8. Windbreaker

The conditions on hiking paths, especially in higher elevations, can fluctuate abruptly. You should have a thin jacket in your water bag in case it gets chillier than anticipated.

9. GPS watch

As well as registering your running data such as distances travelled, speed, amount of energy burned and heart rate, an outdoor-grade GPS watch can provide you with a long-lasting battery, an altimeter, a navigation map as well as guidance on how to refuel during your activity. This can make or break your trail running experience.

When you’re preparing to take on the world, you need something dependable to help you survive even the most difficult circumstances.

Polar Grit X Pro has been crafted to aid you in tackling mountains and discovering unexplored lands. It is a resilient and strong outdoor watch that offers excellent battery life, ultimate strength, precise GPS with directions every step of the way, and many other features.

10. Lights

Like to run at night? A headlamp is a must. If you’re planning on doing a lot of nighttime running, you’ll need a headlamp that is of at least 200 lumens to give you enough light. Your regular backpacking headlamp might be adequate, but it’s not ideal.

A few trail runners prefer to bring a hand-held flashlight in addition to a headlamp, to really brighten up the darkness and be able to look around, while ensuring the beam from the flashlight is always aimed at the path.

It can be beneficial to select a headlamp that allows you to alter the shape of the light beam. If you want to be able to see far along the path, you can switch the lamp to the spotlight setting. Alternatively, if you need to light up the area around you, you can use the wide beam setting.

11. Sun Protection

Using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing a hat, protecting your lips with lip balm, and wearing sun-protective clothing can all help guard you against the sun. Take into account that people with light complexions can suffer skin damage after only 15 minutes of exposure to midday sunlight.

If you keep mostly to areas where trees provide shade, you likely won’t require as much sunscreen or may not even need any. If the path leads you to a ridge with no trees or to the top of a mountain, make sure you are ready.

12. First-Aid Kit

The amount of supplies you should take in your emergency medical kit is largely determined by where you are running and for how long. For jogging sessions that last no longer than an hour and are close to populated areas, many individuals do not bring much of anything.

A primary aid kit can be extremely beneficial if you’re heading out on a difficult route or an adventure that might take several hours or more if you trip and fall.

Bandages, antiseptic creams, and drugs to relieve discomfort should be kept on hand for taking care of minor injuries.

For running on trails in distant locales, contemplate bringing along an emergency encasement, splint for extreme situations, elastic bandage, water purification tablets, and medical paraphernalia for additional serious injuries.

Make sure your emergency kit includes items that are designated for treating foot problems, like moleskin, sports tape, and blister patches.

Decide Where to Trail Run

When making preparations for your initial outdoor experience, it’s essential to be mindful that generally speaking, it takes more time to run on a trail than on a road for a comparable length.

The bumpy terrain and fluctuating tracks will reduce your speed and involve muscles that you may not be accustomed to utilizing, so get off to a careful start and don’t dive into a path you’re not set up for.

You can discover the basics of trail running by utilizing the dirt trails and gravel roads that are found in many towns and cities.

Search for any parks in the nearby city or municipality, or take a tranquil journey down a gravel road. This is an excellent approach for getting acquainted with the landscape and giving your new equipment a go.

When you want greater difficulty or to explore paths different from those close to you, books with directions and web pages are very useful.

They provide whatever you are probably going to require: path difficulty, length, elevation increase, instructions, route highlights and data such as if dogs are conceded.

Websites may also contain details of recent expeditions that can give you an impression of what your journey may be like when you intend to take it.

Don’t limit yourself to only trail-running-specific resources. Many hiking and backpacking guidebooks and websites provide helpful insight when arranging a running path.

Exploring trails can be done by joining a local trail-running organization. There are lots of communities that provide great opportunities for exploring new running paths and connecting with more experienced runners who can give advice.

If you are familiar with the area you want to visit and can interpret a topographic map properly, you may be able to determine your route based on the map’s specifications.

It may be worthwhile to take a look at a guidebook or website for the most up-to-date information about the trail, so you can double-check that the map you are looking at is still up-to-date.

Work on Your Technique

Hiking trails with their varied and unpredictable elevations present a greater challenge than roads that are even and smooth. Common obstacles include rocks, logs and roots. Practising your particular skills for running paths can help you take on this sort of landscape.

Basic Trail-Running Technique

  • Use a short stride, especially as compared with road running. Keep your feet underneath you at all times to maintain your balance on variable terrain. Don’t overstride.
  • Keep your eyes down and scan the trail 10 to 15 feet in front of you for obstacles. Try not to stare at your feet.
  • Swing your arms. This helps you to relax your core and keep your balance.
  • Lots of obstacles ahead? Be like a goat and pick the most sure-footed route.


  • When terrain steepens, further shorten your stride. Maintain your cadence by taking small, frequent steps.
  • Keep your back straight. On uphills, avoid the temptation to lean forward as this can reduce your ability to breathe effectively. On downhills, avoid leaning back as this can strain your body and lead to injury.
  • Super steep? There’s no shame in walking. Bonus: You minimize erosion by not bombing down steep trails


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