10 Things you need to know about trail running

As you talk to runners you will find many different types. Two of them are called Trail Runners or Road Runners. Occasionally, the Road Runner decides that they want to give trail running a try.

And why not, where else can you be right with nature. Enjoy new sights, peaceful surroundings, the chance to see wildlife and most importantly the lack of people and city sounds!

So today, for those who may want to take up trail running, I give you 10 things to know about trail running.


Trail running is a lot of fun, even if it is much harder physically than street running. No matter the distance you pick, you should relax and enjoy it. Take time to look around the area, see the beauty and peacefulness of the surroundings your in.
Motivate yourself by the fact that you are running with nature, and there is new beauty with every turn.
However, with that said, be careful not to get lost. Don't get so distracted that you veer off onto the less beaten path. Or if they instructed you to take the next fork in the path to the left, don't take the right because you are not paying attention.


Generally if you're a street runner, you may concentrate on pace, and keep track of how fast you are going, check your tracker often. Well with trail running, you need to chuck those ideas out, and don't worry about pace at all. Trail running has rough surfaces that you have to move around obstacle like. Sometimes you may even have to slow to a walk to get past a few. If you worry about pace, you could distract yourself too much, or worse ruin the best part of trail running, which is enjoying the run and being with nature.

Can you get faster? Of course, the more you train trail running the faster you will be able to get. Your body will strengthen to be able to take all the impact and twists and pounding without injury.


Depending on the race, you should prepare in advance. If you are not sure what, usually the race website will tell you, or you can ask others who have run it in the past what they would recommend.

Don't sign up for a marathon or Ultra trail run and think that only one pair of shoes is all you will need, don't dismiss if they tell you to plan on having your own race support for fuel and water.

You're also running where the wild things are:) So make sure you show respect, if you are in bear country, yes wear that annoying bell while you run (you'll forget about it eventually.) If you aren't used to wild life, learn in advance what you may or may run into, and what you need to if you do have a run in with one.


While I don't recommend trail running alone. Possibly you are on a trail that is frequented by runners in the mornings and you feel safe running alone. Regardless of how safe you feel, make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If something doesn't feel right, listen to the inner prompting and turn around.

TIP: Many runners can be found carrying a gun on them in the back country trails. However I STRONGLY urge you if you are going to do this, not only to get a concealed weapons permit or the permitting your state allows. But learn how to use it, take it out to a rage every few weeks and get comfortable with it, so you can be safe. Take a gun class and learn how to take it apart and put it back together again, learn safety tips and tricks from experts so in the rare instance you ever have to use it, you know what to do.
If you're not comfortable with a gun, remember there is always Mace/Pepper Spray and Combo's of them!


Trail run races, are not always exact. If you freak out about having to add a few extra miles to your run, especially in a longer distance race, you may hate trail running.

Of course race directors try to do their best, but newer trail races you can plan on adding more. But if you trained well for the race, this shouldn't matter to you, it should excite you! Oh, and when you are finished don't go around complaining that your GPS shows you ran 29 miles instead of 26.2. Very few will care, and they'll just be thinking you need to toughen up! They also may roll their eyes if you tell them you feel deserving of an Ultra finisher medal instead of the marathon medal.


Trail running uses different muscles than street running. It also requires building up strength in your ankles, hips and quads from the impact of the terrain and the shifting your body does as you approach obstacles. You'll be far better equip if you enter a race, not to mention reduce the risk of injury significantly, if you train on trails first. They don't have to be the ones you are running, because all trails can teach the body and train it better in different ways and help you out!


They don't just make them different for the heck of it. Trail shoes will handle the terrain and last much longer than street running shoes. Can you wear street shoes trail running? Sure, but if it's something you are training for or planning to do more of you should definitely look into getting a good trail running shoe and leave the other pair for the streets.


Yup, trail running you get to bring accessories. Bug repellent, hat, sunglasses (not just for the sun, but to protect your eyes if branches flip on your face.) Fluids, you're not going to want to drink from the creek. Trail running and trail races opposed to street races, are the one time where it isn't a bad idea to bring your own fluids or snacks.


You may hit a steep hill, and you'll need those arms to help pull you up. Or maybe you'll need them to pull yourself up an embankment.
You'll also use them to help swing your body around as you clear tree's or rocks. So ya, use those arms, and don't feel that because your running you can't use your arms to help you out when needed.


If you enjoy bringing man's best friend with you on your runs, check ahead of time to make sure they are pet friendly traile. Not all trails are, and you can get fined heavily if you are caught bringing a dog on a trail where they are banned.

Additionally, not all trails welcome runners. Ya, I am not even kidding on this. Due to the fact that some runners are rude and leave their garbage and don't show respect. So double check that runners are allowed, and most importantly make sure you stay on the trail and don't cross into private property (even if a bathroom break is needed.)

Trail running can be a lot of fun. I've done several trail marathons and trail runs in my life and they are an entirely different experience than a trail race.

I won't go to say one is better than the other, both street running and trail running have their pro's and con's. But if you are looking for a new adventure, a better way to build your strength and become a stronger runner. Not to mention, a way to enjoy a run in beautiful peaceful nature surroundings, then maybe trail running is something you'd like to try one day.

Are you a trail runner? What other things would you add to the list?
Or is trail running on your bucket list to try eventually?


  1. I hike and I run... but I haven't done a ton or trial running. I'm so afraid to turn my ankles! Great tips!

  2. I've never tried it - I know me - I trip over flat asphalt. I can imagine rocks & roots being in my way. Injury waiting to happen.

  3. We're lucky enough to have several paved "trails" that go through the parks here so I can get scenery and a feeling of wilderness without being on a true trail :) Having said that, I do want to try real trail running at some point. For now, I'm leaving the trails for hiking!

  4. It's one of those things you have to train for. When I was into it, I found my ankles would be so strong I could even roll one and bounce back up with no injury because the muscles build up in them. But I do a lot of hiking too!!!

  5. LOL, It takes time to build up to it, but honestly I think that was why all those years I was doing back to back races I never got an injury because of how strong the ankles and legs get from jumping around on the trails :)

  6. That is great, we have that too in the city. Several of them one side of the trail is paved the other side is dirt so that you can have the softer surface to run on. Although I think they originally did it so people could safely ride their horses on them, LOL

  7. I love trail running, and agree you shouldn't go trail running solo. Especially if you are like me and get lost often, LOL!

  8. I do most of my training runs for Road races on the trails near my home because it is safer than running on the road or sidewalks here. They are not hard core trails though and are mostly flat. I do need to remember to do SOME runs in town just to mix it up once in a while.

  9. I would add don't worry if you do get lost! Just pause, have a think and retrace your steps. You might have to shorten your run or return the way you came but it's all part of the fun of trail running.

  10. LOL The only time I do solo trail running is if it's on a popular trail, though I am okay being alone I get too freaked out about the "what if's" with crazies out there!

  11. Hey I bet those flat trail surfaces since softer probably were great to mix it up with as you trained for your last marathon to help keep the stress on your past injury down too:) I like mixing it up, but I usualy only do that in the summers, LOL

  12. LOL True! I've more often than not found myself not lost, but wandering further down side trails just to see where they go, your right it's half the fun of trail running!!!

  13. Great post Kristy! I've done two trail races and have enjoyed them both. It is definitely different from road races and you shouldn't compare the paces between road/trail because they will be so different. Elevation gain and losses and also trying not to fall makes you more cautious making your running pace slower. I do love the scenery on trail runs!

  14. I've fallen twice on trail races and so now I am kind of afraid to do it. I am sure that trail running would be much better on my joints though!

  15. This is such great info, Kristy. I have been running while I was camping but I haven't done a trail race or anything so sophisticated. The idea that people run with guns, though, is frightening. I will keep this info in mind for my next attempt :-)

  16. Its certainly easy to get lost while running on trails. Thankfully I have a pretty good sense of navigation and geography and don't easily get lost.

  17. These are fantastic tips and ones I would definitely refer back to should I ever give trail running a try. Lol - I even have a pair of trail running shoes - but I usually just wear them on my usual routes when it's snowy/icy for better footing :)

  18. I totally agree. I hear so often when people do compare their paces, and I always shake my head to that. Because lie you said they are entirely different!
    I love trail running too!

  19. Trail running takes some getting used to, I find at times the more I do it the better I get at avoiding falls. But sometimes depending the trail, you really do have to slow at points to keep safe. But yeah, its a lot better on the joints:)

  20. Depends on where your running if you need a gun or not. Mostly those who I know who do that are either out solo or out in bear country. Most trails especially popular ones, it's not likely needed.
    Trail running can be ton's of fun though!

  21. LOL, yeah I guess some people do get lost. I've never had the problem, but I know a few people even one friend of mine who have the worst sense of direction I roll my eyes when they tell me they get lost on some of the trails they have mentioned. So I figured might as well add that tip in since some do, LOL

  22. That's a good idea for trail shoes!
    One of these day's you'll have to give it a try, it's something totally different than road races that is for sure. I love it!

  23. awesome post :) I am going to get back into trail running soon! I am going to do some easy runs on my rails as the Doc allows me to return. I have missed it. I was walking there recently and I was reminded to always give horses the right of way. I am slower on the trails and that seems to translate faster pavement running. I am excited to hear you are going to get back to it!

  24. Tricia MissSippiPiddlinMarch 8, 2017 at 6:20 PM

    All great tips for newbie trail runners like myself. I've only been on a few and I know I'd really like it if I'd do more. It's great exercise vs road running with all the uneven trails, I think you have to work harder but it's more fun! Thanks for this Kristy!

  25. Haha, I remember running my first trail race. It was a half marathon. Yea, go big or go home right?! I remember getting to the 13 mile point (according to my GPS) and getting to an aid station, not a finish line. I said to the guy "ummm, isn't this supposed to be the finish? Why is there an aid station????" He laughed and said "welcome to trail running honey, this isn't exact like the road. It's measured as the crow flies." I almost started crying right there, lol. My half marathon was 15.6 miles!

  26. I am right there with ya on the go big or go home, my first trail race was a marathon, LOL
    Oh that's funny, I like his answer for ya! But ya it's true trail running isn't exact so they always make it longer than shorter so you can guarantee to get the miles in, I like that they do that. It would suck to run a half and finish and find out it was only 12.2 or something 15.6 much better even if it made you want to cry in the moment, right:)


Thank you for visiting my blog! I love my readers, feel free to share your comments and opinions!