September 17, 2015 / Comments (2)

10 Trail Running Tips For Beginners

of all the paths

If you are a hiker who wants to begin trail running or a runner who wants to head to the trails, the transition can be frustrating. Trail running has unique challenges due to the terrain. Those who actively road run will find their pace slow considerably. Hikers may not know where to begin. Here are ten tips to help you begin trail running and stick with it!

1. Find a program you like

I would trail run sporadically. At times when I would do a long hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, running the flats would make for a change in pace (quite literally). I would also go for a trail run locally in an attempt to become an avid trail runner. I would do a few of these trail runs and because I was just winging it, I would stop for various reasons. Many runners I know started out with the Couch to 5K app and I thought it would work well for trail running.

couch to 5k

2. Stick with it

I found that I had been starting off too fast with my previous attempts at trail running. Sore throat and itchy runners legs should not be factors in the beginning. The Couch to 5K (C25K) program starts you off with a 5 minute warm up walk, 1 minute of jogging, 90 seconds of walking (repeat this jog/walk x8) and a 5 minute cool down walk for 30 minutes. I urge you to stick with the program even if it is super easy! Don’t do two workouts back to back or skip ahead to the next week. If you find a part of the program too difficult, you are encouraged to go back and repeat the previous day’s workout.


3. Challenge yourself

After the first two days I decided to take it up a notch in terms of my overall goal and run barefoot. I have been evolving to a more minimal hiking shoe and the easy terrain gave me a chance to go completely barefoot. I typically do the C25K program when it’s very hot out to get a nice a sweaty session in since it is only 30 minutes long. You could also try for some early morning runs as a mental challenge. Your reward? A gorgeous sunrise!


4. Find Your Training Ground

A program such as C25K won’t be doable for a beginner trail runner on steep, rocky trails. Find a place that is relatively flat and generally free of rocks and roots. state parks and other local trails are great training grounds. Make sure you run somewhere close to home or work so a long drive isn’t the reason you stop.


5. Refrain from buying anything new

It may seem like a great idea to buy a new hydration vest or running outfit when you first start out. Don’t do it! Set a goal for yourself and once you meet that goal, reward yourself. Running is very simple and doesn’t require any special equipment. You don’t want to drop any dough on things you don’t actually need at first or may never use again if you decide trail running isn’t for you.

altra lone peak 2.5

I earned my new Altras!

6. Make a trail running playlist

You may hear from other people not to listen to music. While it is important to be aware of your breathing, any obstacles ahead, and your stride, you don’t want to be bored. I find music so motivating. Personally i’d rather have this push and follow through with each workout than to always have the perfect stride. Make sure your music isn’t up too loud. Be aware of your surroundings as well as how you’re running. Go with what will make you more successful and reach your end goal.

30-cupsuptic cg morning

7. Hike with a friend… or not!

Along the same lines as listening to music, many people will encourage you to run with a friend. If you have a friend local to you that has a similar schedule, team up! If not, you may be cancelling workouts left and right if your schedules don’t line up.

dirty girl gaiters

8. Work on posture

Poor posture can lead to running inefficiently and even injury. Be aware of your posture throughout your runs. If you are doing a walk/run program, don’t slack when you begin to walk. Stand tall, keep your shoulders back, and core tight.

running form

9.Prep Yourself With A Post Workout Snack

Avoid completely ruining your workout effort by prepping a post workout snack to either keep in your car or to have once you return home. A cold water bottle as well as fresh fruit that’s been pre-cut is easy to grab and good after a workout. Stock up on your favorite bars you’ll reach for as well.


10. Get A Routine

Find a time where you can fit in a full workout three times per week. Being consistent makes all the difference!

lincoln woods trail

Have a trail running tip you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!

Last modified: September 17, 2015

2 Responses to :
10 Trail Running Tips For Beginners

  1. Lindsey says:

    For whatever reason, podcasts + audiobooks were totally AMAZING when I first started getting into running years ago. I loved that I could just start it, and learn a few things along the way. Like you say, it’s important to figure out what works for you! (Now, I rather enjoy not listening to anything, and it’s interesting how that’s changed over time). Great tips!

    I actually did the C25K program years back, and found it was such a great way to ease myself into running regularly. One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was to decide I was going to be a runner, and then totally killing myself on my first few runs, which would lead me to mentally dreading my next run. It was nice to start with something obtainable, which left me feeling good and looking forward to my next run (and in fact, whenever I let my fitness go a bit, I totally redo the program again).

  2. Holly Martin says:

    Transitioning from road to trail can sound daunting at first. But gradually, with practice, and as you mentioned sticking to an appropriate plan will yield fruitful results.

    These are some amazing tips, Allison!

    Thanks for sharing. Keep up the awesome work 🙂

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