Together RUN: Trail Running for Beginners #1

Together RUN: Trail Running for Beginners #1

Hi there! Welcome to Together Run: Trail Running for Beginners #1. This blog contains everything we wanted to know and everything we asked as a novice runner on cross country trails. 

This is the first post in our Beginner Trail Running series and in this edit we talk about the basics of running and how to get going.  

What is Trail Running? 

Trail running combines elements of Fell (hill), Mountain and Cross Country Running. It’s often run over longer distances in upland areas and is usually run along non-paved but well marked paths. It includes hiking on steep inclines and fast but controlled descents. 

Is Trail Running Harder Than Road Running?

Yes, typically trail running is harder than road running. The uneven surface and elevation make running more difficult. It can be more dangerous with navigation playing an important part of the activity, you also need to pay closer attention to your safety by watching the trail and matching your speed and effort with the terrain around you to avoid exhaustion. 

Trail running through the hope valley

How Do I Start Trail Running?

Starting trail running requires two things: a good level of fitness and a love of the outdoors. For longer races, many runners say that completing the route is 80% about your mental state than your ability as a runner.  

If you’re a complete novice to running then Couch 2 5k programmes will really help. Public Health England have published a C25k which is a free app with celebrity personal trainers to keep pushing you, although there are a wide variety of other programmes available.

The app lets you choose a personal trainer and you work up to a full 5k over 9 weeks or longer. The best thing about the app is it allows you to feel comfortable at any pace. You move between walking, speed walking and jogging to build up stamina in short bursts. It helps you to learn that you don’t need to run continuously to gain strength, you can slow down – the key is to keep moving.

The C25ks are designed to be run over flat ground so start at a lower elevation. Once you can run for about 30 minutes without significant walking bursts start adding in some gentle inclines or short, steep climbs. But remember the training technique of walking, jogging, walking – even pro, athlete trail runners walk up hills to preserve energy. 

Another thing that you can do to begin is to walk the fells. Walking longer distances uphill will help condition your body to climbing them as part of a run. This will also help you learn navigation techniques. 

Check out the second post in Together RUN: Trail Running For Beginners where we talk a little bit about building miles and changing your technique.