Return to blog

How To Get Into Trail Running: Red’s Ultimate Guide

Posted by Alex Clasper

When most people think of running, they tend to think of long roads or plodding along on a treadmill. While both of these activities are great ways to stay fit and active, they only scratch the surface of what running has to offer. Combining the adrenaline of putting one foot in front of the other with the beauty of the outdoors, trail running offers a unique experience that has hugely risen in popularity in recent years. If you’re eager to embrace the adventure, our guide will have you taking your first steps on the trail in no time. 

What Is Trail Running?

If you’re not quite sure what trail running is, the clue is in the name. Trail running is an exhilarating form of running outdoors that usually takes place on trails but can encompass any kind of rugged terrain. Unlike road running, trail running comes with the challenges posed by landscapes off the beaten track, including uneven ground, varying elevation and sometimes complex navigation.

The increased challenge of trail running comes with a whole host of benefits, allowing runners to get closer to nature and explore more remote locations than possible when sticking only to roads and pavements. It is also a great way of building and improving fitness, as the unpredictability of trail running requires high levels of muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

How To Build Trail Running Fitness

When you first get started with trail running, remember that it is generally more testing than road running. Patience is key and you’ll want to start off with shorter and less technical trails to build up the specific skills required for this type of outdoor activity. Once you’re happy that you’ve got the basics down and your equipment is comfortable (more on that to come later!), you can start to venture a little further afield. Gradually increase your mileage and the intensity that you run at. If you build your fitness for trail running up steadily, you’ll be comfortable with the varying terrain in no time.

Where Should You Go Trail Running?

Not knowing where to go can be a huge barrier when getting into trail running. Fortunately, trails can be found in all kinds of locations so you won’t be spoilt for choice. Whether you live by the coast or further inland, trail running is generally a very accessible form of exercise.

Beginner trail runners should stray away from totally remote locations and get to grips with trails in more built-up locations first. Local parks and nature reserves are great places to start as these areas tend to have clearly marked trails that bridge the gap between running on the road and running on totally rugged terrain. 

Once you’ve been on a few successful trail runs, it’s then time to get a little more adventurous. Running in mountainous regions is the perfect way to take advantage of all that trail running has to offer as you can enjoy spectacular views coupled with genuinely challenging routes. Alternatively, woodland and forests provide ample opportunity to explore the unknown with constantly changing elevation. Wherever you go, take appropriate safety precautions by familiarizing yourself with maps and letting others know roughly how long you think you’ll be.

Essential Trail Running Equipment

One of the main things to bear in mind when getting into trail running is the fact that some specialist equipment is required. Your normal road running trainers will probably be fine on your very first trips to beginner trails, but as soon as you start to take things seriously, specialist trail running shoes are a vital investment and provide you with the right grip and support for your upcoming challenge. 

There are a number of other items that you should make sure you’ve got ready when getting into trail running. A running vest can help you to store items you might not need when staying closer to home, like your phone, water and any energy-rich snacks to keep you sustained during your run. It’s also important that you prepare for all weather, so layer up moisture-wicking performance clothing and pack a light windproof or waterproof jacket. Designed for staying active on the go, the Red Active Jacket for men and women is perfect for trail running.

Red’s Final Tips

Remember that trail running is a rare occasion to spend quality time outdoors and enjoy your surroundings. While there will always be ample opportunities to get competitive, race and test yourself, don’t forget to also enjoy the views from the trail. If you listen to your body, you will be sure to reap the rewards for your mental and physical well-being in no time.