Trail Running, How Triathletes can Benefit from Off Road Running

Bored with the same old running routine and routes? If that is the case, then trail running could be a perfect opportunity for you – a way to discover paths that you have never ventured down before and broaden your perspective. When walking on the trails, you can set aside counting your steps or the distance you have gone, and simply enjoy the experience rather than the end goal.

This guide is ideal for anyone looking to get into trail running, regardless of whether you have no previous experience or if you have been running on the roads and are wanting to switch to trails.

Why start trail running?

Trail running brings benefits for both body and mind. The topography of the area you are running in will test your strength, yet the peacefulness of the environment will be calming, and you won’t be disturbed unless you choose to listen to one of your favourite running podcasts.

Running trails can reignite your enthusiasm for running, as going on the same paths and doing the same exercises over and over again may become tiring and uninteresting.

These are the advantages of traversing trails while running, both mentally and physically.

Benefits of Trail Running 

For the Body

From a physical standpoint, your joints should traverse trails with soft surfaces, as these can lessen the impact.

The trails require you to adjust your movement to navigate the various obstacles that you might encounter. It is necessary to modify your pace and the height of your strides to fit the terrain. Trail running can be beneficial for developing equilibrium and increasing strength in muscles that are typically not exercised.

Sticking to a reasonable running pace can prevent many of the typical injuries that happen when running many days in a row. Running on trails entails a more varied challenge for your body with its inclines, declines, switchbacks, and high elevations.

For the Mind

It is widely acknowledged and studied that the woods provide healing properties. Tension and anxiety tend to dissipate more quickly when you are outside than when you are inside.

Research keeps demonstrating that a visit to a natural setting, such as a forest, is advantageous for the brain and can enhance mental processes – not to mention the lovely sights.

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.

Trail running is a great opportunity to break away from goals and quantified objectives; use it as a possibility to make tranquil experiences as you travel away from the burdens of the metropolitan area.

4 Reasons to Fall in Love With Trail Running

1. Soft surface

Trail running permits you to go for a jog on a more cushioned surface, which can help lower the possibility of repeated use wounds and diminish the effect your body must take in – particularly as the amount of preparation goes up.

2. Change of pace

The paths you’re running on make it easier to move at a slower and more intentional speed, giving your body time to get used to a change in pace, leading to adaptation.

3. Getting dirty

It is great to get a little messy and caked in mud. It makes you feel primal and visceral.

4. Building toughness

Running on the trails makes you a grittier runner. Trail running tests your agility – you need to pay attention to where you are placing your feet, keep control of your speed, show strength when going uphill, and be careful when going downhill. It can be a difficult activity, yet people who participate in it are usually both supportive and inspiring to one another.

Trail Running for Beginners: Tips and Advice

To begin path running, simply locate a route in your vicinity and make that the destination for your next jog. A few simple recommendations can certainly assist you as you embark on your journey into trail running.

Gear Up: Essential Trail Running Equipment

To be properly prepared for trail running, it’s important to bring along the required items. This will guarantee that you are as secure and at ease as you can be when out on the track.

Here are a few items you should consider:

1. Smartphone

For those uncommon cases when you may become lost or hurt on the path, a cell phone will permit you to ask for help if need be. You will have the opportunity to let friends and family know the planned time of your return.

2. Map

If you’re going to a place where the phone service might not be the best, it’s a good idea to take along a map of the trail as an emergency measure.

3. Hydration pack

It is essential to replenish your energy while on extended runs. You must bring water since it is probable that there will be no sources of water along the path to replenish. A hydration pack designed specifically for trail running will provide a convenient way to hold all of your necessities.

4. Trail running shoes

Specialized footwear designed for trail running will allow you to have better purchase and security while running on uneven terrain while also guarding your feet against hazardous objects such as stones and other sharp objects.

5. Windbreaker

The climate on hiking paths, especially in higher areas, can shift abruptly. Bringing an easily portable windbreaker in your water container can be beneficial if the temperature is lower than anticipated.

6. GPS watch

Aside from observing your running measurements – such as the length you have travelled, your rate, the number of calories you have burned and your heart rate – an outdoor GPS watch can offer you a robust battery life, a barometer for measuring altitude, assistance for mapping out your route and advice for fuelling up. This can make or break your trail running experience.

Trail Running Pro Tips

1. Bring water, food, and lighting

If you plan on having a trail run that is longer than usual, it would be best to bring a bag with some water, a flashlight (just in case visibility is limited) as well as some snacks too. Generally, though, you’ll still be fine even if you don’t bring any of this as most runners tend to just wear whatever they are wearing for their usual runs in the city.

2. Find a trail running group

When getting started with trail running, it makes sense to find a trail running group and explore the trails with the company. Sometimes the environment can look the same and you can find yourself lost.

3. Get familiar with trail markings

Discover the procedures for designating trails and comprehend the meanings of distinctive trail signs. Then, get out there to explore and enjoy.

4. You can always slow down – it’s not about speed

Be prepared to take your time on the challenging landscape, and don’t feel shy about walking if you need to. Speed is not the main objective of trail running. Allow yourself to savour the experience rather than strive for a swift completion.

5. Check the weather

Trail running can be an enjoyable pursuit in the summertime, but you should be aware that the heat and high levels of moisture in the air can make it more demanding. If the weather is hot, adhere to the suggested guidelines for exercising in the heat.

Fell Running: Trail Running’s Transatlantic Cousin

What is Fell Running? 

Running in areas with lots of hills and slopes is something that a lot of runners in other countries are not used to, but those who have tried it have found it to be highly enjoyable, fun, and an exciting challenge.

Off-road running, which originated in Great Britain, is a form of exercise known as fell running. The word “fell” refers to a hill or mountain, so fell running includes running up and down hills and mountains.

It is claimed that the sport originated in the Lake District or a comparable spot in the hills of England in the 19th century.

At this moment, shepherds and farmers toiling the area continuously went up and down the slick, inclined, and uneven slopes throughout the day. They made their own trails and created a great deal of stamina and might while fulfilling their jobs and tending the land.

Competitions were created in the summertime in which shepherds tested their skills in navigating the mountains quickly while being limited in visibility and direction.

The origin of fell running as an organized sport, as well as future official contests in the activity, began with these games and are now accessible to any participant.

Fell running events have a welcoming and informal atmosphere, allowing people of all ages, skills, and body sizes to join without judgement and find social support from their peers regardless of the said background.

The challenge of fell running isn’t just about the tough geography and vertical climbs; it’s an extreme sport that involves navigating a variety of treacherous surfaces, including rocks, farms, slippery ridges, wetlands, heather, clumps of grass, marshes, and incredibly steep ascents and descents.

The challenge doesn’t end there. A lot of classes and competitions include substantial parts of courses that are not indicated.

You’ll need to find your way through the course utilizing traditional navigation methods such as a map, compass, and your own intuition. No GPS allowed.

Differences Between Fell Running and Other Forms Of Off-Road Running 

Fell running does not include running on roads, much like other forms of off-road running, such as trail running, cross-country running, and mountain running.

However, it is different from trail running, cross-country running, and mountain running in subtle ways that distinguish it as a unique sport within the larger sport of running in the following ways:

Fell Running vs. Trail Running

Both fell running and trail running occur on trails and walkways, but the primary distinction lies in fell running requiring substantially more uphill ascending or altitude increase during the competition.

Along with the contrast in gradient between fell running and trail running, trail running happens on designated paths or trails that are visible and can be followed with ease, thus the title “trail running”. On the other hand, with fell running one needs to use a map and compass while also having a knowledge of the mountain terrain to make their way.

The differing levels of fame and international involvement are other distinctions between the two sports. Fell running is mainly limited to Britain whereas worldwide participation in trail running is quite common.

The last distinguishable trait is the feeling of grandeur and respect associated with the game. The atmosphere at fell running is laid-back, and it is viewed as a recreational sport.

Fell runners partake in the sport for the sake of enjoying the experience, seeking out an adventure, forming relationships with fellow runners, and rising to the challenge rather than winning awards or beating personal records. The cost of participating in these activities is very low and the awards given out are minimal – such as a cup, gift voucher, or a bottle of wine or beer.

Trail running competitions are generally more competitive and focus on obtaining better results, they also tend to have a more official atmosphere.

Fell Running vs. Cross Country Running

It is a likely possibility that if you are engaging in either form of running, you will end up with soil or dirt on your clothes, as this activity involves competing on a diverse surface.

In contrast, to cross-country running, fell running typically involves more hills and more demanding terrain that are less controlled and require more navigational skill. Therefore, it is highly unlikely for you to become disoriented when participating in a cross-country running race.

Fell Running vs. Mountain Running

One of the main distinctions between these two forms of running is that mountain running typically enables quicker speeds.

This is because though both types of running involve heading from one place to another, with fell running, the path has to be located and set out by the runner, while mountain running generally requires following an already established route.

How to Start Fell Running

The most effective way to get going is to search for nearby events or encouragement for fellow runners in your area through the Fell Runners Association.

Fell Running Gear

You’ll also need specific gear to ensure your safety. If you participate in an FRA event, there will be clearly defined regulations regarding the appropriate fell running attire listed in the competition’s information.

With that said, the following are some of the most important pieces of gear for beginners:

  • Mud running shoes or waterproof trail running shoes
  • Waterproof layers, especially if you’ll be running at an altitude
  • A headlamp
  • A hydration pack, hydration belt, and bum bag 
  • Gloves
  • A hat or visor
  • Maps of the area
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Bug spray
  • Tall running socks
  • Gaiters

How to Become a Good Fell Runner

The capability to sprint a brisk 5k or full marathon on the streets does not necessarily imply that one is an efficient fell runner.

Someone who does a lot of walking, particularly among hills and mountains in all conditions, is likely to do better than a fast track athlete in a fell running race.

You must possess excellent navigation capabilities. This involves having the ability to employ both a map and compass without difficulty, along with either a dependable intuition or familiar knowledge of the mountainous landscape in your locale.

Fell runners must be able to determine the most efficient route between two points themselves.

This type of running needs difficult, rugged ascents and very methodical descents, thus a competent fell runner is a competent hill runner with powerful legs, reliable ankles, skilful manoeuvring, and rapid reactions.

You must possess persistence and a positive outlook for any type of event.

Sound like something you would like to do?



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