Original article link: https://www.on-running.com/en-ca/articles/trail-running-for-beginners
Trail running is on the rise. Since people started running, the great outdoors has always called to us over the monotony of trudging on the treadmill. But with so much attention now placed on the world of trail running, starting out on the most natural kind of run there is can be intimidating, which is why we’re bringing you this handy guide to starting out with trail running.
Straight off, there are a few details to iron out. Trail running isn’t just heading for the hills and running through the local paths you might run in a cross country event (more of which you can find out about here if that’s your goal ). True trail running – the kind we’ll be talking about here – gets you out and away from the modern world. Deep forests. Mountain tracks. Scenery that needs to be seen to be believed. This is the trail running that often lasts for more than an hour and can have you alone in nature with nothing but your thoughts and what you’ve brought with you. That’s the trail running we mean.
Before You Begin
The weather’s looking good and you’re feeling great. You’ve decided to head out on a proper trail run to enjoy the beauty of nature and at the same time, challenge yourself. Fantastic. Here are a few things to think about before you take that first step out onto the trail.
Picking the Right Route
So where are you going to go? Aside from the multitude of trail running sites and blogs (that may not cover your area), hiking blogs (of which there are a lot more online) can be a hugely useful tool to help you know where the best secluded routes can be. If you know where you want to end up – such as a key mountain or waterfall to pass on your trail run, you can also plug those in to your search engine to see the best way to get there on foot. Of course remember you also have to make it back to where you begin, so also keep that in the back of your mind.
One more thing to remember when planning where to head out to on your trail run in assessing the elevation, as this can be taxing on your efforts and add to your run time that many route planning maps don’t take in to consideration. Check the elevation along your planned route using online tools, map it out if possible so you know the parts that will require the most effort from you, and then you’re ready to head out on your set route.
Like all specialty sports, there are a few things you should take with you when trail running and a few things that are more “nice to haves”. It all starts with the shoes and clothes. Proper footwear for trail running is a must: shoes that cushion (for the descents), that have grip (for the unstable stones), that feel good (for the prevention of blisters) and that protect (from sharper rocks and roots). Stability is something you should also look for in your trail running shoes, as the uneven ground underfoot can lead to twisted ankles (something you do not want to happen when in the wilderness). For more on this, see our guide to finding the best trail running shoe for you here.
Trail running clothing can be equally important, as you will likely be spending quite some time wearing it all in the elements. Whether you go with long or short sleeves, shorts or pants, technical socks or ankle, much of your clothing choice depends on the weather, but also through the terrain you’ll be running. Even if it’s a bright and sunny day, wind is a factor that can chill you even more than rain, and so windproof clothing is often advised. Likewise, clothing that draws sweat away from the body helps keep you dryer vs. damp clothes that can add extra cold to your body. Of course, if it is raining and you’re heading out, waterproof jackets and pants are recommended for your run, especially in the cold so as not to develop any illnesses. Broken down, common sense comes into it when you’re thinking about trail running, so check the weather and know roughly how long you’ll be gone for so you can dress the right way.