Trail Running

If you don't think running is fun then you are doing it all wrong. Running is one of the most primitive and natural forms of exercise there is, you don't even need shoes ... but that is another subject entirely. I have been running since I started doing triathlons about a decade ago and have really enjoyed it. I love the sights, the sounds, and getting into the running groove. I am pretty fortunate because I the surburban area where I run is pretty pleasant so I never really saw the need for trail running. We have some really experienced runners here at sweat4health and after years of seeing their posts about how wonderful their trail runs were, I decided to give it a try and got hooked on my first run! Trail running can be euphoric, please give it a try!!!


We have a member here from the Northwest Territories in Canada who does a lot of trail running. When you are running hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital in grizzly bear country and do not have cellphone reception, mistakes can cost you your life. In technical conditions like that, you have got to run smart and be fully prepared for self-rescue. This brings up a great starting point, trail running is like any other sport, you learn in a progression. I have ZERO business running up in the NWT, what I need is newbie trail running!

Newbie Trail Running

Start out easy when you start!  First of all, get your start on a treadmill or track if you can.  You can build up with the do your first mile, then a half marathon program.  Then find some gravel roads to start on.  Many parks have gravel fire roads.  You can also find really nice gravel roads along rivers, on levees, or along lakes.  Gravel roads are great because you cant slip and they are fairly flat but yet get you used to running on uneven surfaces.   When dry, hardpack dirt can also be fine to learn on.  I plan on sticking to this kind of surface for at least 6 months before I graduate.

If you have "nowhere to run" then please use google maps to look for parks nearby that you may have forgotten about.  I am willing to bet there is somewhere within a 20 minute drive of your house that would be awesome. Even in Manhattan, one of the most densely populated places on the planet they have Central Park to run in!

Trail Running Risks

I do not pretend to be an expert on trail running like some of our members here at sweat4health so I will defer to them for advice on the below items but I just want to point out some things you need to keep in mind while on trails

  1. Puddles.  I puddle can be 1 inch deep or one foot deep.  An unexpectedly deep puddle can end in sprain or break.
  2. Slip.  Asphalt and gravel are even, textured surfaces that seldom slip.  Mud and leaves can be slick as oil.  If you are taking giant strides when trail running, a slip can result in uncontrolled splits and an injury that will require a stretcher to get you off the trail.  When trail might be slippery, small quick steps reduce chance of slipping and increase the chance of a graceful recovery if you do slip.
  3. Trip.  Trip and you fall on your face, even if you dont injure anything bad it could end a run.  The higher you can raise your feet by high stepping it while trail running, the less chance you will trip.  Infants often high-step when they are learning to walk, see below for proper high-stepping technique.
  4. Safety.  If you dont have cellphone reception and had a serious injury, are you prepared for self-rescue?  Are you prepared for sudden changes in weather?

High Step Technique To Avoid Tripping