Trail running is more popular than ever before. No wonder: ever since mankind discovered running for itself, the great outdoors has exerted a special attraction on it. The monotony of a treadmill simply can't compete with that.
Nevertheless, getting started in the most natural form of running can seem intimidating for beginners at first. With our trail running tips and basics, you should still be ready to venture out into the wilderness in no time!
What is trail running anyway?
Basically, trail running simply means running in the great outdoors. Literally translated, trail means track or path - and as we know, these exist everywhere. In contrast to running in the city, the terrain on a trail can vary greatly.
So you run on small paths, stones, in mud, on grass and sometimes even on snow. What you don't necessarily need for trail running, even if it sometimes seems that way, are high mountains and peaks.
Trail running does not have to be a mountain run and can also be done on the small forest path in the city park, the adjacent forest road or on the gravel path around the local quarry pond. The main thing is to get away from asphalt and concrete - that's trail running!
What does trail running depend on?
While standardised values such as distance, speed or pulse rate are often the focus in road running or on the tartan track, the running experience itself is what counts in trail running. This means that it is primarily about movement in the great outdoors and the fun of varied running.
When running off-road, speed or best times are not important at all. That's what makes trail running so interesting, especially for beginners! The stopwatch stays at home and if you pass a beautiful place or a great vantage point, you stop and enjoy the moment.
What equipment do you need for trail running?
As with all more specialised sports, there is equipment that is indispensable for trail running and other things that fall into the "nice to have" category. Most importantly: the right running shoes for trail running. In our Keller Sports trail running shop you'll find a huge selection of trail running shoes that will protect your feet from the diverse trail conditions.
Special trail running shoes consist of a robust and water-repellent upper material such as plastic or leather. In addition, they are equipped with stable elements in the toe area to protect your feet from branches and stones. They also have a rougher and deeper tread than ordinary running shoes to give your feet more stability even on rough terrain.
Also important on the trail: the right running clothes for trail running. Whether you run in shorts or a winter jacket depends on the weather and the terrain. As a general rule, you should not underestimate the wind, even on sunny, clear days.
Windproof and moisture-wicking functional clothing protects against unforeseen changes in the weather. If you get cold easily, you should also wear merino wool baselayers when trail running. These have the advantage that you don't get cold in them, even if they are already damp.
In addition to suitable shoes and clothing, further trail running equipment is only necessary when the tours become longer and the routes more demanding. Then a running backpack with hydration system, an easy-to-stow running jacket and energy bars rich in carbohydrates can be helpful. In unfamiliar terrain, a GPS watch or your smartphone should always be with you so that you don't get lost.
Your trail running equipment at a glance
- Robust trail running shoes with optimal profile
- The right running clothes for every season
- Light functional clothing such as rain jackets in case of a change of weather
- Running backpack with hydration system if the planned run is longer
- Food and drinks
- Suitable navigation system
Tips for beginners: What is the best way to train trail running?
When you start trail running, you should not pay attention to the speed at first. Instead, focus on the terrain in front of you - especially if it is technically challenging, uneven or slippery. In contrast to road running, trail running also uses new muscle groups (for example, your arms provide balance on the trail) and different techniques.
For example, when going uphill, constant fast and easy steps in an upright position (not leaning forward as many beginners do) will help you to manage the climb as efficiently as possible. Downhill, a workout in the gym can help you: There you can train your dexterity and stability with balance balls and balance beams to get downhill quickly and safely.
For beginners, it is also advisable to run together with a partner in the beginning. You can share your experiences in the new sport with them and laugh about unpleasant surprises, for example, if you end up in a dead end before impassable terrain.
If you do go on more challenging runs alone, make sure to inform someone in advance for safety reasons or use a social running app like Strava or Runkeeper. If you get lost on the trail, take a breath and try to stay calm. Look at your phone or map, try to find out where you are and retrace your steps.
If you have no idea where you have landed and your mobile phone has no reception, head for the highest elevation you can find. From there you have the best view of the area and can see where the nearest signs of civilisation are.
Adventure trail running: what makes trail running so special
As you can see, trail running is not considered an adventure sport for nothing. But it is worth it! The fresh air and the views you can enjoy while running in remote places are worth all the effort. In the end, you experience more adventure with trail running than any other running discipline can offer you.