Trail Running Tips

Get the right running shoes! Get the right running shoes!

The same but different

Your propensity for a sprained ankle or stumble is higher than road running, much higher and you’d better have strong glutes (Buttocks), there is more climbing as well. I have been trail running for around 3 years, love it and have found it to be a natural progression from road running, just a lot more fun without the people or cars and challenging. These are my tips for newbies and those who have been doing this for a short time.

My 10 Trail Running Tips

  1. It’s harder than you think. It is harder than road running, think like 1.5 times the effort. Get fit and make sure you choose tracks wisely that match you fitness level.
  2. You need to be looking and concentrating on the ground around 3m in front in front of you for exposed roots, loose rocks, and low hanging branches. A lack of concentration can quickly result in you on the ground with the spiders and insects shrieking in pain from a sprained ankle or a lot of swearing and/ or a large bump on the head. Get the picture? The only good thing is no one can hear you scream when you are alone out there on the track.
  3. Get some eye protection. Oakley’s are great for this, there is always a spider web or a branch ready to sweep across your face. Yon won’t regret it. I never run without them.
  4. Carry water. The Camelbak is a great product for this. Take more water than you would on a road run. 1.5 to 2 times what you may normally carry. Due to the higher workload you may sweat more and also if you take a wrong turn, you really don’t want to be lost with no water.
  5. Wear trail shoes. This is a little controversial for some, many trail runners use their normal runners. The reason I wear trail shoes are due to sharp sticks and rocks and the added protection a trail shoe gives you as well as the tread, for wet slippery rocks and loose gravel. I believe these help a lot. I would also suggest cushioning be good in the shoe. You will be clambering over rocks and the impact from these can hurt. I have found the Mizuno Kazan to be the best trail shoe (from a small sample) I have tried to date. Note, this is not a paid endorsement.
  6. Don’t wear headphones. On single trails you cannot hear people running up behind you and they cannot pass. Likewise any warnings or other things to alert you will get missed. This is a personal preference.
  7. Take a map or smartphone with enough battery to monitor where you are, unless you know the track really well. It ll get missed. This is however ement.on'on the ground u fitning, just a lot more fun without people and cars and challenging. is easy to take a wrong turn, get lost and Google Maps will help get you back on track quickly. Cannot emphasize this enough.
  8. Tell someone you are going trail running and where, and ask them to check with you by a certain time or text them. If you fall and bump your head or cannot walk, you really want someone alerting the authorities.
  9. Know sun set time. Trail runs can take longer than expected sometimes. Running home in the dark on a trail with no light is not great. Trust me, I have tried. Misjudged this on a deserted island in Fiji and spent an hour clambering around in pitch black on a dirt road. Not fun, especially when everyone else is already in the pub.
  10. Take a small snack, for energy or in case you get last. You use a lot more energy, on longer runs you might need to refuel.
  11. Running with a GPS watch is a good idea. If you know how long the run is more or less you can monitor it this way and know how far to go at all times. Easy to get disorientated in the bush. I managed to sprain an ankle 9kms into a 14km run and got disorientated. Used the distance and compass on my GPS watch to find the right track home in the loop.

Selecting a trail running shoe

I recommend you consider the following when selecting a trail shoe:

  • Protection; think enough and stiff enough soles to avoid any injury from sharp rocks or thorns
  • Side protection around the fore foot. Thicker material. Very often sharp sticks pointing upward when on a single trail
  • Cushioning, I prefer front and back. Land hard on rocks has a good chance of causing injury
  • Tread, good enough to stop slippage on smooth rocks and steep hills with loose gravel
  • Flex between front and rear sole. See the Mizuno below. Helps avoid sprains with a more rigid sole
  • Laces, these can attract and get caught up with a lot of loose grass and thorns. The thinner the better.
  • Weight, for obvious reasons


Take a towel, extra water and fresh shirt for when you finish. Enjoy!

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