Whether you like to run short or long distances, stay on the flat or head up hills, trail running is a great way to add some variety to your training. We've teamed up with the pros at GORE® Wear to offer some tips on how to get started.
Take time to tune in to your body
The first thing that you'll notice when your starting trail running is that you'll have to get used to placing your feet on an uneven surface. You'll also have to speed up your stride, to keep up with the constantly changing terrain underfoot - tree roots, stones, potholes… nature throws a lot of curveballs!
It's important that you don't rush or push yourself too hard when you're starting out, as you need to allow your feet time to get used to the new movements.
We recommend that you incorporate some simple strengthening and stretching exercises to strengthen your legs and feet, and to help you to stay injury-free. Great exercises include squats and standing calf raises.
Have confidence in your stride
Whether you choose towpaths, fields or mountains, make sure your shoes fit well and have a sole that's suited to the terrain. Strong, durable and high-traction footwear will increase your confidence, especially on uneven or slippery trails. You'll be able to move faster because you won't be second-guessing every step.
Increase your training gradually
Trail running is known for being tough for a reason; running a mile off-road really does take more effort than walking or road running.
Try not to over-commit the first few times you head out This may require you to leave your ego behind, as you'll find that you aren't able to go as far, or as fast as you would do on the road. It's OK - if you aim to build distance and elevation gradually, then you should be able to make fast progress.
Don't try to tackle mountains straight away. Start with the kind of undulating and rolling terrain that you can walk up without getting out of breath.
Once you're used to the feeling of running off-road, you can start to build in steeper climbs and longer distances. Build a base of strength and endurance with hill repeats if you've got limited time to train.
Embrace the challenge of variable weather conditions
Trail runners are hardy souls. Getting out for a run in bad weather can be just as rewarding as smashing a PB in perfect conditions.
Although trails are generally more exposed to the elements than the city streets, a bit of wind or rain is unlikely to stop play. The important thing is to keep an eye on the forecast and be prepared with the right kit.
Look out for fabrics that keep the wind and rain at bay without trapping moisture in. Breathability is key to staying warm and comfortable - if perspiration can't escape you'll end up feeling clammy and cold.
If you can't tell what the weather will do, or if you're expecting the temperature to change, make sure you carry an outer-layer that you can easily fold up and stow away. The R7 GTX SD Trail HD Jacket is completely waterproof and unbelievably light so there's no excuse not to keep it with you.
Shelve your excuses!
All you need to start with is a good pair of shoes, your favourite running kit and a sense of adventure. Give it a go and make sure it's for you before you splash out on trail-specific kit (we think you'll love it!).
It's totally normal to be nervous about trying something new but what have you got to lose?
Happy trail running!