The Truth About Trail Running: You Don't Have To Run ALL Of It

Want to know the truth about trail running? You really don’t have to run the entire time.

Let me explain.

Many times while I’m out on a trail “run,” my run looks more like a slow shuffle up the trail. My Strava sometimes even auto-pauses while I’m moving because I’m going so slowly. This does not embarrass me. It’s the reality. If I ran the whole time, I would probably fall off the edge and end up lying hurt at the bottom of a ravine somewhere. So between sight seeing, enjoying the mountains and sometimes just terrain that is too steep to run … I walk.

So many people tell me they’re scared to try trail running because they aren’t the best runners. To these people I say, then trail running is actually perfect for you.
When I’m alone in the mountains, I run as much or as little as I want. Some days I push myself and run steep sections, and others I walk and enjoy just being outside.

Fall is a beautiful time to be in the mountains. Colors are changing, the air is crisp and sometimes there’s even a touch of snow to make the mountains really pop in the background. It’s really the perfect time to go as fast—or as slow—as you want, to take it all in. The smell of damp pine, silence except for my footstep, and the time alone with my pups makes it my favorite time of year for running, not matter how slowly.

No one is judging your pace, speed or how many miles you cover. Trail running is simply about being outside.  So the longer the run, the more I walk. I run the flats, not-so-steep uphill sections and the downhills. I walk the steep sections.

If that sounds nice to you, here are a few tips for getting into it.

Step 1: Go to your local running store and get fitted with a great pair of trail-specific shoes. The extra plate on the sole and the increased tread will help you feel confident on varied terrain.

Step 2: Use the Internet to find good trails in your area. The Internet is an amazing resource… it has lot of information… check it out!

Step 3: Join a local trail running group. Most group runs are for people of ALL abilities. And honestly, most runners are just excited to see newbies out there giving it a try.

Step 4: Go on your first run! Just enjoy being outside and off roads, and away from traffic. Go as fast or slow as you feel. Just remember that if you're new to this, you may be sore the next day. You're using a lot of new muscles, so don’t worry—it's normal.

Step 5: Bring some kind of fuel on runs longer than an hour, and always have a protein drink of some sort after your work out. (Chocolate milk is fine.. no need for super fancy products).

Step 6: Go out and enjoy a beer and tell everyone how awesome your trail run was!