Trail Running – what beginners need to know

Trail and off-road running can offer a new challenge and for most people it’s the sheer enjoyment of being out in the hills and getting away from it all. For beginners trail running can seem quite daunting, so here are a few tips to get you started.

The difference between off-road running and trail running is that trail running may include a short section of road that leads to the trail and the trail itself is not intensively hilly. Off-road running is the hillier stuff and is also known as fell running. If you want to get involved in trail and off-road running, its worth trying it out before committing to a big kit purchase. But once you know you want to continue, it’s then important to get the proper gear in order to protect yourself from the elements but more importantly to avoid injury.

The best way to try hill running is with an experienced friend or group. There are lots of hill running groups up and down the country or you can check out websites such as –

Scottish Hill Runners

Scottish Hill Racing


Welsh Fell Runners Association

Irish Mountain Running Association

Northern Ireland’s Mountain Running Association

If you don’t wish to go along with a group and nobody wants to go along with you make sure you take all the necessary precautions, such as wind and waterproof clothing, a map, a whistle for attention, and tell someone where you plan to go and how long you think you’ll be. It’s also important to remember to tell them when you’re back!

For beginners,  trail running may seem tough at times but there are many benefits to be gained from hill running such as the strength you can gain from doing it. Running up hills builds strength as it’s a form of resistance training that builds up the muscles in your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. You’ll also strengthen your hip flexors and increase your speed by inadvertently increasing your stride length! The bigger your stride the faster you run and this happens when hill running because your lifting your knees higher than they would be if you were just running on flat ground. This increases hip flexibility which in turn increases your stride length. Your upper body will also get stronger as you use your arm muscles a lot more running uphill than you do when running on the flat. This strengthening will considerably reduce the risk of incurring injuries.

So why not get off-road and try out the trails!

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