Updated: May 4
Trail Running Tips to Make Your Nature Runs More Successful
With the right knowledge, we believe that everyone can run farther or faster than they thought possible. Runners can achieve their goals with training and race coaching, athletic training clinics, drills and tactics taught via videos, and mental training specifically for female runners.
When we are not out designing trail courses for our PinkStrong adventure trail run races or out on the trails running with other athletes, we are thinking of the training techniques and the best advice to share with our tribe to make them better and achieve their next run PR.
A recent Fun Club survey revealed that since the pandemic, more of our runners are turning to the trails for their next 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, and ultra running races.
We are excited about this because we believe trail running is exciting, invigorating, and all around fun. Trails have a way of making runners feel like kids again, skipping through nature, feeling the breeze kiss their skin, having the sun rays help them navigate tree roots, jumping over brooks filled with water and scaling mini mountains that make them feel like Rocky at the summit.
For the beginner trail runners out there, I think we should share that, unlike road running, trail runs consist of equal parts walking, hiking, climbing, running, sprinting, leaping, and descending over various terrains.
Here is some of Swim Bike Run Fun Club's best advice for trial running and trail races.
There are a plethora of things you can do to gain confidence on the trails (think practicing strategic climbing, descending on rocky terrain, or learning to leap), but there are also a few extremely easy things you can do to make your trail running fantastic.
Trail running has less of an emphasis on speed and pace compared to road racing. Runners new to trail running should become accustomed to a slower pace, pay less attention to their Garmin, and learn to look at their Strava stats much differently.
Get in the habit of going at a slower pace and not checking your watch every 10 seconds. As a road runner, you get used to your diverse paces for different distances. The trails are unique. You'll come across portions where you're strictly ascending, and you'll notice a pace on your Garmin that makes you feel defeated.
Try not to let it bother you; just keep moving and realize that everything that goes up must fall down. On the way down, you'll make up for lost time with a blazing fast pace. When racing, it’s a good time to overtake your competitors to gain an advantage.
Most trail runners will need to adjust their mindset to the fact that they will be walking or power hiking for the majority of their run. If you're on the trails and come across a rise or steep hill, resist the impulse to sprint up it. That requires a tremendous amount of energy. Walking or power hiking up the hills (even if they're only a few meters long) will keep your legs fresh for the race's more runnable stages. Trust us when we say that your legs will thank you afterwards!
Make sure you're familiar with the course markings, the color of the flag you're tracking, and how often you should see it. You can get lost. It’s unlike a road race where many are following the crowd of people during a road race, and there is plenty of big signage. Making an incorrect turn is nearly impossible.
Trail runs rely on tree markings, colored flags for routes and distances, mile signage, and loops. Trail running forces you to search for little flags in the forest or specially marked trees. It's all too simple to blow past a marker and head off in the wrong direction, especially when not following a crowd. Trail runners must pay attention to the briefing and athlete guide if they wish not to get lost or to miss key turns for aid support.
One day, 3 of us went out to run on the Southwest Williamson County Regional Park Trail for a recovery run. That day, we learned a lesson: trail running is all about the shoes. We were slipping, sliding, and sloshing around the muddy trail. Proper trail shoes will alter your trail game for the better. It is, without a doubt, the kicks that keep you connected to the ground.
Trail shoes will give you enough traction to get you up steep climbs and down difficult descents without slipping. Some are even waterproof, giving you bold confidence to run through puddles while your competition dodges them and loses time.
Tunes and Beats
Enjoy nature and run without headphones, or keep only one earbud in if you must. Out on the Tejas Trail race course, about 10 of us ran up on a runner who screamed when we caught up to her coming down the side of a rise fast. That was buffered by trees. We took her so much by surprise that she tripped and stumbled down for about 50 feet. She did not hear us coming with Jamming Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.
Have Fun Running Like a Kid
Trail running is unquestionably difficult. It employs a variety of muscles, systems, and mental strategies. On the ups and downs, your quads take a beating. Along with your running speed, you'll need agility and strength. It's easy to get caught up in your thoughts and question whether you're the runner you thought you were.
One of the benefits of trail running is like each run or race is like an mini-adventure. Take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and take a look around. Everyone is working together to complete the climbs. Trail running is a community because of this. You're in some of the most beautiful areas on the planet, battling Mother Nature alongside like-minded individuals. It's the closest some of us will ever come to a true adventure, so take advantage of it! Looking for a great beginner Women's 5K trail race? Check out our PinkStrong Trail Adventure Race Series.