Trail running is constantly rising in popularity amongst all age groups, especially as more and more people take an interest in the outdoors and the sense of adventure it can bring. Those who take part in this state that running through the woods ‘nurtures their soul’. This is more important than ever before as we adopt busier lifestyles, have become technologically dependent and lose our connection with nature and the environment around us.

This activity allows you to go at your own pace, it can be a marathon or sprint. After being connected to smartphones at home and desktop computers in the workplace, running through the woods provides a real sense of calmness.

In this guide we’ll be covering the things every beginner needs to know about. If you fall in love with this outdoor activity and want to take it to the next level, some runners have even started travelling across the world to see what different locations can offer them. Regardless of if you’re on the move in the UK or overseas, it’s worth having a travel insurance policy. Cover is relatively inexpensive and can easily be compared online using a comparison site such as Utility Saving Expert. You’ll be insured for things like lost or stolen belongings, cancelled or delayed transport and emergency medical treatment. All useful when you’re on the move and away from home.

What can a beginner expect from trail running?

At this point you may already be used to running on tarmac, concrete or any other hard surface. Trail runs provide softer surfaces, making them more comfortable and you’re less likely to suffer from an injury as a result of this. It also provides a sense of excitement that road running just can’t offer. It will be no secret that runners will prefer to breath in the fresh air from a damp forest rather than fumes from hundreds of vehicles on the road.

Trail running will make you stronger and more importantly a happier runner. You’re no longer just running purely for fitness, there are other aspects such as peace of mind, body and soul. Here’s what you’ll need when you’re just getting started.

Running gear

This is a minimalistic activity in comparison to road running. You’ll want to leave behind your smartphone, as music and GPS navigation isn’t as important. Heart rate monitors can still be used if you want to train for an event and log your results. Generally, the whole purpose is to leave technology behind as it will take away from your experience.

Clothing: You can wear the same apparel on trails that you would for other forms of running, but you’ll want something that can withstand extra wear and tear.

Running shoes: This is where you’ll want to have specialised trail shoes. These will offer you added protection and greater stability in comparison to the running shoes you’ll see advertised by major sports manufacturers. Afterall, you will be running on uneven surfaces that differ in texture. Examples include: grass, mud and rocks.

Water bottle: Dehydration is a killer so you’ll need to drink lots of water regularly. This is even more important in hotter climates. You don’t want to faint in the middle of nowhere and require emergency medical attention.

Lighting: Another plus is that you can even run during the night without having to worry about colliding with a vehicle. However, you’ll need to have either a headlamp or flashlight to guide your next step.

After a good run, don’t forget you’ll need a towel and another set of clothes to change into.

What steps do I need to take on my first trail run?

Find a suitable trail
Pace yourself and take shorter strides
Embrace the hills
Keep your eye on your next step and the ground in front of you
Keep a safe distance from other trail runners
Be vigilant and avoid slippery surfaces, especially rocky ones
Safety first, you are now entering the wilderness

Other things to think about are what wildlife can be found in the area, when and where any hunting takes place and what time the sun is due to set. Although you’re not at risk of being hit by a car, there are still other dangers. This is why safety will still be a top priority.

If you’re ready to get started, here are some of the most popular trail runs in the UK:

Loughrigg Fell, Lake District
Noss Mayo and Newton Ferrers, Devon
Pen-y-Ghent, Yorkshire Dales
Frensham Common, Surrey Hills
Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms
Coed-y-Brenin, Snowdonia

We hope this guide has been useful in helping you better understand what trail running is all about. Hopefully, you enjoy this new endeavour as much as we do. You’ll go from a beginner to a seasoned veteran in no time once you experience what’s on offer.

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