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How To Start Trail Running

To put it simply, all you need to do to start trail running is find a trail near you and head there for your next run. Of course, there are some basic trail running tips that can help you to get started.

Read on if you’re puzzled by any of these questions:

  • How to find trails near me?
  • What trail running gear do I need?
  • What to keep in mind on the trails?

How To Find A Trail And Pick A Route

How To Start Trail Running

Some trails are printed on maps at park entrances and some aren’t. Some are well-maintained and others less so, but discovering new trails is one of the exciting aspects of trail running. When running on a trail for the first time, sometimes you just don’t know what’s ahead of you, and that can be scary, too.

To help you be more comfortable and safer exploring the trails around where you live, here are a few ideas to get you going if you aren’t sure where to start:

    Trail running clubs

    Local running clubs are usually good resources when it comes to finding running trails in your area. Runners in these groups can provide tips to make the transition a bit easier.

    Running specialty stores

    Individuals who own and operate running specialty stores tend to know the hotspots in the area. Inquire to see if they can provide maps or information on local trails.

    Look for trail races in your area

    Trail races will usually provide routes of the race on their website. While you don’t necessarily have to sign up for the race, you can use this information to explore and begin training on the route.

    Apps & Websites

    Technology makes it easier than ever to find a new route. There are several apps and websites you can use to find trails in your area.

    Here are a few:

    1. MapMyRun

Essential Trail Running Gear To Get Started

Since trail running is a bit different from road running, you'll need to bring along a few essentials. This will ensure you're as safe and comfortable out on the trail as possible.

Here are a few items you should consider:

    Smart phone

    For those rare instances when you may get lost or injured on the trail, a smart phone will allow you to reach out for help when needed. It will also allow you to communicate with loved ones to let them know when you expect to be back.


    When you’re venturing off into an area that may provide limited connection to your smartphone, bringing along a trail map is a good backup plan.

    Hydration pack

    On longer runs, keeping your energy stores topped off is a must. And since there likely won’t be any water fountains on the trail to hydrate, you’ll need to carry water too. A hydration pack made for trail running will allow you to carry all of your essentials easily.

    Trail shoes

    Dedicated trail running shoes will give you more traction and stability over rough surfaces while also protecting your feet from sharp rocks and other hazards.


    The weather on trails, particularly at elevation, can change quickly. Packing a light windbreaker in your hydration pack can save you when the weather is colder than you expect.

    GPS watch:

    In addition to tracking all of your running metrics like distance, pace, calorie burn, and heart rate, GPS watches will like this one also provide power, a long battery life, and a barometer reading for elevation readings. This metrics can help you maximize your training and experience.

Key Trail Running Principles To Keep In Mind

  1. You can always slow down.

    If the terrain turns out to be very technical, don’t be afraid of slowing down and walking.
  2. It’s not about speed.

    Going fast is not at the heart of trail running. Take your time and enjoy the activity instead of focusing on your speed.

Athlete Tips From Runner Michael Wardian

“Trail running doesn't have to be complicated, and I think it’s best to keep it simple. If you’re doing a longer trail run, it’s nice to find a pack to carry water, a headlamp (when visibility is low), and food – but again, you can do most of your trail runs in whatever you were wearing on the roads.”

“I think when first starting trail running, it makes a lot of sense to find a trail running group and explore the trails with company. Sometimes the environment can look the same and you can find yourself lost.”

“I would suggest being familiar with trail marking, since trails in the U.S. are usually marked with painted blazes, and how they work but again not necessary, just explore and enjoy.”

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