Trail Running Beginners Guide

A trail run is a form of running that takes place off-road, often on trails. The terrain is usually uneven and may include roots, rocks, gravel, dirt, or sand. It can be very muddy in places. Trail running can take place in forests, around lakes, or over mountain ranges.

People find it to be more challenging and rewarding than traditional running. A lot of people think that trail running is about hills because trails tend to be hilly. Hills are not the reason you should go trail running. Instead, the level of difficulty is what separates a good trail runner from a bad one. Trails also often have beautiful scenery that makes the experience more enjoyable to many people.

You may need to carry your own water for trail runners because water may not be readily available during a race.

Getting Started: What to Expect

Running can be a great way of exploring the outdoors. It can also be a great challenge for those who are looking to get stronger and fitter. Trail running is relatively new in Australia, and it has quickly grown in popularity. If you’re thinking of taking up this running, read on for some useful tips to help you get started.

Essential Items When Running on Trails

Trail running can take place on dirt trails, gravel paths, or boardwalks through wetland areas. To make your experience as enjoyable as possible, there are some essential items you’ll need when trail running: – Shoes with good grip and ankle support.

  • A watch that you can wear on the wrist, or a GPS device
  • Water and electrolyte tablets. Carry at least 500ml of fluid on longer runs. If you’re planning to run in the summer, you may need to carry more water or take along a hydration pack. – A mobile phone. If you’re not running with a partner, then make sure you take a spare battery and fully charge the one you’re taking with you
  • First aid kit, particularly if you have an injury that requires regular treatment. It’s handy to have plasters, bandages, and scissors, as well as any medications that you may need During the Run

You should warm up well before beginning your trail run. Take some time to walk around, do some stretches and get used to your surroundings.

What Shoes Do I need?

Some runners will hit the trails barefooted. This is not something that we would recommend for beginners. If you’re on the trails for a long period, you may want to wear trail running shoes with good grip and ankle support. If you’re not sure which shoes are best for your running, take some time to go and speak to a running store about the options available. They will help you choose the ideal shoe to suit your needs.

See Our post on Trail running shoes for long distances.

See Our post on Zero drop trail running shoes.

What Should I Bring with Me?

It depends on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. If you’re running a very short distance, then you may not need anything. If you are running elsewhere for some time, think about what you would need and bring it along.

What Should I Wear During the Run?

Wear clothes that do not restrict you from running. You should also avoid wearing heavy or restrictive clothing while trail running. The weather can be different during different times of the year, so consider when deciding what clothes to wear on your run.

What is a Trail Run?

A trail run is an endurance activity, and you should pace yourself by keeping an eye on your time. You should also carry water with you and try to drink it often. This will keep your body hydrated and will help you to avoid getting dehydrated. Get used to the places that you are running through so that you don’t get lost.

Should I go alone?

There are advantages to going alone, but there are also disadvantages. When you are running on your own, you may have to take care of yourself and make sure that you do not get lost. You may also need to be extra friendly and put people at ease if you have a camera or other equipment with you.

How Much Should I Eat?

It’s important to pace yourself during your run. It would be best if you can carry food with you, but it’s not always possible. You should plan to bring along some food if you’re running for more than two hours. Eat a meal beforehand, and then have a snack at around 40 minutes or so into your run. Plan to eat your final meal around the hour mark after you’ve run for three hours. It could be wise to store some of your water during this time if you need to get back to base before finishing.

How quickly do I need to drink?

Drinking slowly is important when running on trails. If you have an hour of trail running to go, it would be ideal for drinking half your body weight in water every 20 minutes. You may only need to drink for a short time, depending on how much you’ve made you sweat. If this is a hard situation to deal with, consider drinking Smartwater or running with a hydration pack.

What kind of run should I do?

If you’re not used to trail running, then think about the terrain first. You may want to go for a trail run in the woods where it’s not as rocky. This will also allow you to move at your own pace and not get hit by falling rocks if you’re going downhill. You could also consider running a shorter trail in case you need to get back home before finishing.

How much time should I allow?

There is no exact answer to this question. You will need to consider how long you think it will take you to finish your run and how far off your route. If it’s a trail that needs to be walked, then allow more time.

Dangers of trail running

There are many dangers in trail running, especially if you are running somewhere that is unfamiliar to you.

The trails are often muddy and can cause runners to slip. Turning an ankle is one of the most common injuries that occur in trail running. Many people enjoy trail running, but others prefer to stay on pavement or concrete where there aren’t many dangers. The following benefits of trail running might help convince you. Trail running is considered a sport, but it remains a hobby for some people too.

Safety Precautions

People who don’t run in the woods often tend to be chicken or afraid to go. This can lead them to get injured on the trails. The dangers of trail running are easily avoided if you stay away from open areas where big animals might wander through and scare you. You will be more comfortable and safe if you stick to closed trails, which are designated paths that are solid and safe for walking.

Statistics on Recorded Injuries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps the information about all injuries that happen in the United States. In 2002, there were over 113,000 emergency room visits due to sporting activities. Of them, 13% of those injuries were due to trail running. Running is ranked 17 out of the 25 sports that are most dangerous in the U.S. Surprisingly, near water was ranked higher than every other sport at #3. The highest ranking for a sport was #2, with football/rugby/rugby league at 20%.

Statistics on Recorded Deaths

The Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps track of deaths in the U.S. The top 3 sports that lead to recorded deaths are:

Leading causes of death were:

Story about a family fall while trail running
In September 2005, a family went to go trail running. They ended up falling into a canyon off the side of the trail. This caused 6 people to end up in the hospital, and 4 of them had life-threatening injuries.

A story about a trail runner who was killed
In June 2004, a trail runner was killed when he fell 15 feet down an embankment. He did not stabilize and rolled down the mountain.

Strengthening Your Legs

To strengthen your legs, you want to do exercises that target your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. If you run up hills, you will strengthen your quads and glutes and burn more calories.

Strengthening Your Core

To strengthen your core, you want to do exercises that target your transverse abdominous, obliques, and lower back muscles. The best way to strengthen these muscles is by doing planks and bridges.

Trail running technique

The trail running technique is different from the road running technique because you have to run over uneven ground and be more agile. Trail running is a much more natural way to run, so you should avoid shoes that are heavily cushioned with lots of support.

It would be best to take shorter strides on trails instead of road running to stay agile and not end up tripping on a rock or stone. It would be best if you also were prepared to stop on a dime when you’re trail running.

Trail running workouts

There are many different types of workouts that you can do to prepare for trail running. You can choose more advanced workouts if you are looking to run longer distances or trying to be an experienced trail runner. To run for longer distances, you should start with more little runs and build up your mileage over time. Take short breaks between each mile of trails, too so that your body can rest and recover the muscles in your legs.

Tips for trail running

To increase your frequency of seeing your body change and improve, you need to do trail running every 3 days. It would help if you did not run more than 3 times per week and not less than 2 times per week. You will see changes in your body if you take the time to make a training schedule that helps you achieve your goals.

How To Avoid Injury When Trail Running

There are many ways that you can avoid injury from trail running, but they all have one thing in common: proper form. It is important to watch your form when trail running because you want to prevent common injuries in trail runners.

How To Correct Incorrect Form When Trail Running

To help with the correct form, you should keep the following three points in mind:
Running over soft surfaces can be dangerous. Only run on slotted trails as opposed to open areas if possible. The more stones and rocks you run over, the more likely you will end up with an injury.


Beginning Trail running can be daunting. With a good pair of running shoes and some trail miles under your belt, you will find that you can do a lot more than you think. These tips will help you get your feet on the ground and start making those miles count.

Well, as the saying goes, what goes up must come down. And when an ultralight backpacker in the Santa Cruz Mountains climbs up to the highest point in their area, they may find that they are just a few steps away from death’s door.


Department of Health and Human Services (2012). “Trail Running and Mountain Biking.” Retrieved 1 February 2013.

Hagel, L., et al. (2008). “Factors associated with trail running injuries among runners: A retrospective study.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 18 (2): 109-16. Retrieved 1 February 2013.

Schoeman, C., & Maunders, A. (2010). “Determinants of injuries in downhill mountain biking.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(3), 174-178. Retrieved 1 February 2013.

Szymanski, D., et al. (2009). “An evaluation of the causes and consequences of injuries in trail runners.” European Journal of Sport Science, 9(4), 203-11. Retrieved 1 February 2013.

Walker, G., et al. (1996). “Musculoskeletal injuries in trail running.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 30(3), 199-202. Retrieved 1 February 2013.h

Bibliography for Track and Field:

Australian Institute of Sport (2012). “International Olympic Committee approved the use of biometric data in Athletics competitions”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Australian Institute of Sport (2012). “The International Amateur Athletic Federation decides that the Australian Institute of Sport can begin to use biometric data in Athletics competitions”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

General :

Australian Sports Commission (2011). “Australian Sporting Participation & Participation Statistics”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Australian Sports Commission (2011). “Sport Participation: Couch to 5K Programmes”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Australian Sports Commission (2010). “Results and Analysis: A Data Collection Strategy”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (2009). “Actors’ Screen Test Wiki”. Retrieved 17 January 2013.

Fitness :

American Council on Exercise (2012). “Fitness Leader”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

American College of Sports Medicine (2004). “ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 7th ed.” Chicago: American College of Sports Medicine.

American Council on Exercise (2012). “Fitness Leader”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Analytics :

Australian Institute of Sport (2012). “Sport participation: The Data Collection Strategy”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Australian Sports Commission (2008). “Australian sports participation survey: A summary of the 2008 survey results”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Australian Institute of Sport (2012). “The International Olympic Committee approved the use of biometric data in Athletics competitions”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Australian Institute of Sport (2012). “The International Amateur Athletic Federation decides that the Australian Institute of Sport can begin to use biometric data in Athletics competitions”. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Track and Field :

Baxter, M.A. (1992). “Measuring and coaching velocity”. Coaching Digest. 1(2), 1-9. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Bowerman, W.J., & Cavanuagh, T.D. (1970). “The underpowered athlete: A review of research on the biomechanics and etiology of muscle cramps”. Medicine and Science in Sports, 2(4), 197-230. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.
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