Here’s everything you need to get started…
Heading out onto the trails is the perfect way to train. Whether you live or work in a city or not, the benefits of heading out into the countryside or to the coast to enjoy fresh air and the wide-open spaces is not to be rivalled. It’s for these reasons and more that we love trail running. To help you get off on the right foot with your trail running journey, we’ve pulled together the top things to think about when you’re heading out on those first few training runs.
Plan Your Route
Before you head out on your run, make sure that you plan your route (or adventure) with a paper map or an online map. OS MAPS is a fantastic resource, as is Google Maps for helping you discover local trails and keeping you on track while you’re out on the trails.
Can’t read a map? Don’t sweat it. On some sports watches, you can download a route and follow it straight from your watch.
If you’ve found a new trail route, we recommend taking the time to hike it before running it to familiarise yourself. This is the perfect opportunity to share a walk with friends, family, or your dog! (Just remember to keep your dog on a lead when around livestock.)
Even in urban areas there can be some hidden trails that run through your local parks, along rivers or canals, maybe link them up with your usual pavement run to start with.
Consider the time of day
You’ve planned your route, so next up is to plan your day. If you are driving to the countryside, consider how long the drive is and whether there is car parking. If there is parking, keep in mind that some rural car parks still take cash, so it’s worth taking some change just in case.
In the summer, if you’re out in the middle of the day, make sure you take it easy, stop for plenty of breaks and have enough food and water to keep those energy levels up. In the winter, layers are a must to protect you against any changeable weather, and if you’re heading out late afternoon, don’t forget to pack a head torch.
Top tip: Regardless of the time of day, always tell someone where you are going and how long for. If there’s no one about, make sure you leave a note.
Don’t break the bank on kit
While you may be excited to get into trail running, don’t get too obsessed with specialist trail running kit immediately. Over the summer months your normal road running kit will be adequate but always carry a few extras such as:
- Money & Card
- Something to eat / gels according to distance
With the changeable British weather, specific trail shoes, a lightweight, waterproof jacket and a snood are worth the investment.
Trail shoes are perfect all year round and will see you across dry technical runs, through to the muddier runs in the winter.
Similarly, a snood is a perfect, small item that’s worth taking out all year round. In the summer, it can keep the sun off your head, the sweat out of your eyes, or when dipped in water, keep you cool, yet in the winter, your snood is the perfect trail accessory to keep your neck or head nice and warm. Check out the official BTW snood, on sale now!
Stop to enjoy the views
When you’re out on the trails, don’t get sucked into checking your watch every few minutes and checking those mile splits. Instead of committing to running a specific distance, try running for time. e.g. 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back.
The winding paths around coasts and countrysides are the perfect place to practice running at a free, relaxed pace at a consistent effort. While moving at your perceived effort pace, you have the chance to enjoy the view and move based on how you feel. If you want to walk up that hill, walk up that hill.
If you have time, make sure you stop, take in the views, and enjoy that feeling of escape and adventure. By taking the run at a lower than usual pace, it’s nice to say ‘hi’ to other trail users and gives you a chance to get into good country code practices, like shutting gates and staying on the marked trails. If you’re having a snack while on your trail route, make sure you take litter home with you.
Get fit to run, don’t just run to get fit
Consider adding in a weekly strength and conditioning class if you’re looking to become a more frequent trail runner.
Trail running can be more demanding than road running on your core muscles with all the lateral movement, so training these through classes or in the gym is the perfect way to help you stay safe and injury free.