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Turning road into trail running

Where did I start?

I started as a road runner in 2005 and it wasn’t until a trip to India in 2013 where I discovered what trail running was. As a participant in a 100 mile Stage Race held in the Himalayan Mountains, I was thrown in the deep end. It was a first for me in both running on mountains/trails and a multistage format.

Benefits of switching from roads to trails 

There are many benefits to making the transition from road to trails. One of these is the scenery. Running on trails, you get to surround yourself in nature. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of being outdoors a lot more. This can be a refreshing change from the urban environment that many road runners are used to (or the hustle and bustle of the streets of London in my case).

Another benefit of trail running is the variety of terrain. When running on the road, the surface is less varied throughout the run thus using the same muscles with minimal variation. But when running on trails, you’ll encounter a variety of different surfaces, from rocks and tree roots to steep inclines and descents. This can help to improve overall fitness and use of different muscle groups, as well as challenging balance and coordination.

Trail running can also be a great way to reduce your risk of injury. When running on road, the surface is often hard and unforgiving. This can put a lot of stress on your joints. But on trails, the softer surface can help to absorb some of the impact, reducing the strain on your joints.

What do you need to get started?

  • Kit –  Firstly, you will need is appropriate footwear. You will need specific shoes designed for the trails. The major difference between the road shoes and trails shoes is the grip being more uneven than the smoothness of road shoes.
  • A backpack/race vest – This will be handy if looking a spending longer time out on trails. Basic recommendations in your pack includes; water, snacks, raincoat, fully charged mobile phone, change of clothing clothes and small first aid kit.
  • Route – If you’re unsure on routes, there’s a few options. Ask the community what’s around you, use a paper map or upload a route to your mobile device/GPS watch. 
  • Safety – As some trails can be remote with limited access to shops, people etc. always let someone know your whereabouts. Tools such as, Apple Air Tags or Apps to share your location could be utilised if safety is a concern.
  • Preparation – To ready yourself for the trails, get familiar with running on hills. Hill reps with Noble Pro Elite E8i treadmill paired with specific workouts are available on the ‘Kinni’ app if access to hills is a challenge. This can activate the lower limb muscle groups for the trails. Cross training and resistance work is also highly recommended as there will be a lot of twisting and changing directions. This makes agility and stability training key for making an easy transition.

Switching up routine

Trail running can be a great way to switch up your routine and keep things interesting when the roads begin to get a bit monotonous. But when you start trail running, every run is different. You never know what challenges or surprises you might encounter along the path.

Final words..

Overall, the benefits of trail running are well worth the effort. Whether you’re looking to switch up your routine, reduce your risk of injury, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, trail running can be a fantastic addition to your fitness routine.


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