Everything You Need to Know About Trail Running

Everything You Need to Know About Trail Running

Posted by Allison Capaldi on


The smell of the fresh air, the ever-changing terrain, the eliminated worry of a car coming up fast behind you. There are a lot of amazing reasons why trail running is a great sport or pastime to get into. Come along with us as we get into the best parts about trail running. You’ll probably have your shoes tied and ready to go before this post is over. You’re welcome.

What is trail running?

Trail running is just like what it sounds like. Running on a trail whether it be gravel, dirt, or sand. The opposite being road running which, again, is just like it sounds too. And a whole different animal. That’s why today we’ll focus on trail running. 

Trail running can be unpredictable because, well, nature is unpredictable. You could encounter a fallen down tree, some puddles, various inclines and declines, and even muddy or eroded terrain. 

The best thing to do in order to incorporate trail running into your life is to be prepared so that you’ll be comfortable, safe, and feel great afterward.

Trail Running Socks

Is trail running harder than road running?

Trail running isn’t necessarily harder than road running, but it is definitely different. Have you ever run on sand? Same movement but a completely different experience than running on the road. Trail running takes part on unpaved trails or terrain completely in nature. And like we said above, nature can present various obstacles (depending on how you look at them) in our way. 

You can have a trail that is especially gravelly and creates a bit of instability when you’re really trying to crush your PR. You can encounter narrow trails with tricky bits such as foliage on either side of you, divots in the trail, or even steep hills or drop-offs. 

So while all running can be a challenge, this depends on your kit, the specific trail you’re running on, and your physical strength and endurance.

Is trail running better for you than road running?

Trail running and road running have many similarities but we cannot deny the extra boost of energy you get from running in nature. Just the same as when you step away from your mobile, computer, and social media can bring you that exhale that you need. Trail running can do the same in that you’re not dodging loud vehicles and worrying about safely crossing the road. So while both are mentally good for you, being in nature always adds that extra release.

Does trail running build muscle?

Trail running definitely builds muscles. There are so many tiny muscles that help us with balance and stamina that are engaged when we’re running on a trail. Alongside the normal larger muscle groups that help to keep us moving and pushing through. However, when you’re dealing with terrain that isn’t flat and has nuances to it, your body needs to adapt and therefore build muscle in a slightly different way than you might get with road running. That’s not to say that road running doesn’t possess challenging terrain changes like hills and steeper inclines, but it can generally be flatter depending on where you’re running.

Trail Running Socks

How to run downhill trails

When running downhill, you’ll want to remember that gravity is going to play a big role in how you move down the hill. Let gravity take the lead and make sure you’re running with your shoulders, torso, and hips leaning forward. This helps to counteract the gravity and bring more balance to your trail running game. 

Don’t underestimate the power of your core when it comes to running downhill. Your core is your stabilizer and will help you continue to find that center point where gravity and your body are working in unison. 

Another tip is to try not to look at your feet, but rather, look down at the hill. This just helps your neck to stay at a more neutral position and retain less energy giving your legs, back and hip flexor muscles more time to engage. All along helping you stay upright and now eating gravel for lunch.

What to wear trail running

What to wear while trail running, just like any outdoor sport, requires a knowledge of what kind of weather conditions you’ll be running in. And, keep in mind, this could be multiple weather situations within the same outing. 

That’s why we highly recommend you dress in layers. Layering can not only keep you cool or warm but can also protect you on those really sunny days. Oftentimes, trail runners will carry a small lightweight pack that you can use to take off your lightweight jacket so having something with you to carry your layers is important too.

Because you could potentially encounter various types of terrain, we will always suggest using waterproof socks. You don’t want to know what it feels like to step in a puddle with a regular sock on and then have to continue your run. Let’s just say it’s not the most fun trail run you’ll ever have.

Waterproof socks not only keep you dry but also prevent blisters by pulling moisture in the way of sweat vapour away from your skin and pushing it out of the sock. This creates a dry environment within your sock and keeps you blister-free which is huge when out on a long trail run. 

A good hat such as a Sealskinz waterproof cap is also a game-changer. Not only does it keep the sun out of your eyes and off of your face, but if you do encounter any rain, you are protected with a good trail running hat. 

Depending on the time of year you’re trail running, you may also benefit from a pair of lightweight, waterproof gloves. Our Waterproof Ultra Grip gloves are great trail running gloves for those in-between times in autumn or spring where a light layer is welcomed yet the bulk of a winter glove is unnecessary. 

And obviously, trail running shoes. You’ll want a shoe that is built for running on unpredictable terrain. A sturdy sole with traction will help you grip onto the trail when you encounter slippery terrain. And, in many cases, lightweight trail running shoes are ideal for the above-average trail runner. The only downside of lightweight trail running shoes is that they’re usually pretty permeable so pairing them with a good pair of waterproof socks helps keep you out on the trail and comfortable and dry. 

And that’s why trail running is so incredible

Trail running is such a great escape plus an incredible workout both for your body and your mind. Being properly outfitted makes a big difference so don’t forget to invest in some waterproof socks and gloves to make your run more enjoyable. And, don’t forget to stop, take in the scenery, and be proud that you’re getting out there and choosing to do something that’s amazing for yourself.

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