Looking to step off road and into trail running? New to trail running and wanting advice? You’ve found the right blog post. We asked inov-8 ambassadors to reveal their best tips for trail running beginners. The following tips are also useful for experienced trail runners who may be seeking renewed motivation.
1 Build up slowly
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Not everyone is superhuman. Sure, we hear about folk who take up trail running and within six months have won a 100-miler. But for most of us it’s a case of building up slowly. Start with manageable runs and build on this. If you set your targets too high you simply set yourself up to fail. Or to get injured. Ben Abdelnoor
2 Go get lost
A big part of trail/off-road running is exploration and adventure, and that’s at its best when following new trails. Throw caution to the wind and take the path less travelled, the one you’ve never been on before. Forget all about your pace or your mile splits, just relax and enjoy a micro-adventure. In less extreme environments, many of my happiest trail running days have started off this way. Damian Hall
3 Join a club
Draw on the wealth of knowledge of the local people and local runners within a running club. It’s a good way to find running partners and training buddies. You’ll find out the best trails to run on and routes to take. Ben Abdelnoor
4 Go easy, initially, on the downhills
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be a bugger. It’s when your quads, in particular, howl at you a day or two after a hilly trail run, you walk all funny and people laugh at you. That happens because your legs aren’t used to it and they get a bit of a shock. So just go easy on the downhills at first, or you might regret it. Damian Hall
5 Shoe’s the right kit
Wearing the right shoes is essential for trail running. During a trail run/race, the terrain can change underfoot, so the most important thing is choosing a shoe that best matches that terrain and gives you the best grip.
Forget road-specific shoes and get something with more traction on the outsole – the perfect shoe range for new trail runners is the INOV-8 PARKCLAW. It crosses over brilliantly from road to trail, as it still feels smooth like a road running shoe but has the necessary grip for paths and trails. When you become more adventurous with your trail running and start running regularly over muddy or technical trails, look at the INOV-8 ROCLITE range. Ben Mounsey
6 Be brave
Open your eyes and cast them out to the horizons. Out there somewhere is a trail or a hill and it’s calling your name. A path not yet travelled is eagerly anticipating your silent arrival. Maybe you’re a little bit scared or anxious. Fear of the unknown is only natural.
These trails might seem outside your comfort zone – a whole world away from the predictable running track or your familiar roads. But still I urge you to embrace your fear and leave all that tedious running behind. The track and roads will still be there if you ever feel the need to return! I dare you to not become exhilarated by the endless trails reaching out in front of you. There’s a whole world to explore. Just step off the track, off that road. We weren’t born to just run in circles. Hop over the gate. Open your arms out wide. Find your wings. Fly. Your trails are waiting. Go. You won’t ever regret it. Heidi Davies
7 Keep a training diary
It doesn’t need be particularly detailed, but a training diary will help you to build up an idea of what your weekly mileage is, and whether you’re doing too much. The best race seasons I had were those when I kept a diary. The diary doesn’t lie. And I tend to forget… Ben Abdelnoor
8 Mappy trail running
When I first began running on the trails, I wasn’t really sure where the local trails were! I bought a map of the local area and studied the network of trails near to my house. I almost had as much fun planning routes as I did actually running them. After a while it became a personal competition to see how many trails I could ‘collect’. Nowadays, I no longer need the map when I run from home… I’ve finally collected them all! Ben Mounsey
9 Think of the health benefits
Countless studies have shown the enormous health benefits – the biophilia effect – of being in green places. Tarmac or trees? Traffic or toadstools? It’s a no brainer. Sure, the path may look a bit muddy and rutted, but you’ll get core strength benefits from trails, whereas you’re more likely to get injuries from repetitive pounding of pavements. Tarmac is the harshest surface to run on and your body feels the shock, usually in the exact same way, time and time again. Damian Hall
10 Enter some trail running races
Find some good trail running races to get entered into. This will help to give you a focus for the year. If you aim to do more than just one ‘biggie’ it’ll also feel less stressful, i.e. you won’t be worrying that if you flunk your only race of the year, that it’s a wasted year. I’ll always have half a dozen ‘big races’ to focus on throughout the year. Ben Abdelnoor (Check out the likes of Maverick Race, Lakeland Trails, both in the UK, and Rainshadow Running, in the US, all of which inov-8 support)
… And one extra one, in case you need more inspiration
If you still need that final push to step off the road and onto the trail, read this from Victoria Wilkinson:
Think back to when you started road running:
– It was daunting
– You thought you couldn’t do it
– You thought you would fail
– You thought you wouldn’t enjoy it
– You have run
– You can run
– You have exceeded your expectations
– You actually enjoy it
– You’ve made friends
So, what about trying trail running? It’s all of the above and much, much more:
– You get to see stunning areas of the countryside
– It takes you to places you’ve never been before
– There is an event to suit everybody
– It isn’t as hard as you think
– No two areas of the ground are the same
– You will find you can run up the hills
– Running downhill is an amazing buzz
– Everybody has fun
– It will make you a tougher person
Just try it, you WILL surprise yourself!
* Ben Abdelnoor, Damian Hall, Ben Mounsey, Heidi Davies & Victoria Wilkinson are all experienced off-road runners who have represented their countries in trail and/or mountain running races. They have worked hard to build their trail running skills and fitness over a number of years and in some cases decades.
A trio of PARKCLAW shoe options
The PARKCLAW range of shoes has been designed to deliver the ultimate in grip and comfort when running over paths and trails. Every shoe in the range features an outsole with 4mm rubber studs that provide outstanding grip over the various hard and soft ground encountered on an off-road run. With a cushioned midsole, super-soft yet durable upper materials, and a roomy fit in the toe box, it ticks all the boxes for running on paths and trails.
It’s also the perfect choice if you’re moving from road running to trail running, or taking your first steps off-road as a beginner to running. The soft studs on the outsole help provide a smooth feel, similar to that of many road running shoes, while at the same time giving confidence-boosting grip.
There are three shoes in the PARKCLAW range (all have a 4mm heel to toe differential):
PARKCLAW 275 (Shop Men | Women) – The original and much-loved PARKCLAW
PARKCLAW 275 KNIT (Shop Men | Women) – The new PARKCLAW with a super-soft knitted upper material
PARKCLAW 275 GTX (Shop Men | Women) – The waterproof PARKCLAW featuring GORE-TEX protection