Man in a jacket and shorts trail running on a high mountain trail.



Trail Running—A Beginner’s Guide

The move from road to trail is easier than you think. You just need a little advice…and the right shoes.

Trail running is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy your surroundings. There’s nothing like some awesome scenery to accompany your daily run, but it can be intimidating if you’re just getting started. Making the transition from road to trail is easier than you think—Here’s a list of tips to help you get started! 

Beginner Trail Running Tips

Making the switch from road to trail comes with its challenges, but not without its benefits. Running on soft dirt makes for a lower impact on your hips, knees, and feet all while improving your coordination. Along with the physical benefits, trail running is a great way to keep your runs exciting and challenging with tons of new scenery to explore. Here are some of the top things for beginners to think about before hitting the trails. 




The Right Trail Shoes

Maybe you’ve taken a deep dive into how to choose the perfect trail running shoes, but if not, here are some refreshers on what to look for. Look for trail shoes with added traction technology on the outsole and water-resistant materials to help keep you going in a range of elements. Make sure your shoes provide both the comfort and support you prefer during your run. 

To explore more about what to look for in trail running shoes, read How to Choose the Best Trail Running Shoes. Now that you have your right pair of shoes, let’s get into must-have gear for any trail run.



Essential Gear

When starting out on the trails, it’s important you have the right gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable run. Unlike the road, most trails are farther away from resources that may be needed to keep you going such as water and food. Staying fueled and hydrated is a top priority when taking on new terrain. Always carry an extra supply of water and snacks to be prepared for the length of your run.  

It is also essential to bring first-aid supplies. If you are planning on an adventure that may take you a few hours, farther away from civilization, it’s important to pack bandages, antibacterial ointment, and other foot-related supplies in case of a fall or other accident. 

The last essential for beginner trail runners is to always bring some type of navigation device. Taking a new route can get confusing and makes getting lost easier than expected. Some trails do not have great service to support the GPS systems on cell phones, so it’s always smart to bring a backup. Consider bringing a map, compass, or alternate GPS device for your trail adventure.  





Check out our Shoe Finder and find your perfect trail shoe.


Woman running on a trail


Planning Your Route

Getting away from your usual running course means taking on new terrain on the trails. For beginners, it’s best practice to research some popular trails around you prior to embarking on your running adventure. Two important factors to look at initially when finding a trail are the length of the trail as well as its difficulty level. Trail running often takes longer than road running so don’t be afraid to choose a length that’s shorter than what you are accustomed to. If the thought of jumping straight into trails is still a bit intimidating, a great place to start out is local parks where there is a plethora of soft terrain and gravel roads.  



Bonus Tip 

For all those with four-legged family members, getting out on the trails can be just as exciting for them as it is for you! With plenty of dog-friendly trails, it’s always more fun to take on new adventures with a friend.


Now you have some of the top tips for beginner trail runners! Time to get out and explore more with your run.