What Is Trail Running?

What is trail running? Trail Running is a sport where runners run along trails or roads through forests, mountains, deserts, etc. The main goal of trail running is often to complete a course within a specific time limit.

Trail running has become very popular over the last decade. Trail Running is a great way to get fit and enjoy nature simultaneously.

What Is Trail Running?

There are several trail running events, such as ultra-marathons, marathons, half-marathon races, and even shorter distances.

Ultra-Marathon Trail Runs

Depending on the race organizer, these are long-distance races that go from 50 km to 100 km or more.

Ultra-marathon trail runs are usually held in mountain areas, although there are some exceptions. For example, the California 100 Mile Endurance Run near San Francisco Bay.

The most common type of ultra-marathon race uses roads and trails part of the National Trails System. The other option is off-road routes that include dirt paths, single track trails, or single tracks.


Marathons can be run on trails. Half-marathon courses vary widely but often involve parks, lakes, beaches, woods, hills, etc.

Half-marathon courses can be as flat as 10% grades or as steep as 30%. Most people choose somewhere in between.

Marathons are generally held on roads or streets but sometimes use trails. Some marathon organizers use both road and trail courses. In contrast, others only allow their participants to use one.

Marathon Road Races

This is another type of road event with varying lengths. Usually, these races have a total distance of 26.2 miles. Some races go further than that!

A popular one is known as the Boston Marathon, it is held every April. It is considered one of the best marathon races in the world.

Many of these races are not actually held in the United States. Instead, they are held worldwide, including in Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

There are dozens of marathons throughout the US and Canada and many more outside North America. In Europe, the most famous marathon race is the London Marathon. Other major marathons are those of Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Vienna. 

Tips For Trail Running

To run on trails, whether for an hour or a few days, requires special training. It is essential to learn about the terrain you will be running before tackling any trail route. You should consider the following factors when choosing a trail route:

1. Weather

Know what weather conditions you might encounter during your trip.

2. Terrain 

Understand the nature of the terrain you will be walking on and ask yourself if this is a suitable environment for you. For example, are there places that are prone to flooding or landslides? Will you need to watch out for snakes or poisonous insects? There may be certain wildlife that you want to avoid at all costs.

3. Difficulty Level

If the route has a lot of uphill sections, then it means that you will need to put some extra effort into getting up to speed. Conversely, if the route is mostly downhill, it doesn’t require you to put nearly as much energy into your workout.


When running on a road course, you don’t always get to see scenery like you do when running on trails, which is why it’s essential to understand what you’re looking at.

For example, do you prefer to follow streams or rivers? Or would you instead look across fields and pastures?

5. Safety Issues

Certain areas may make you feel uneasy because of safety concerns. For example, is there a cliff nearby? Have there been any accidents reported recently?

These things could affect your decision-making process as you try to decide whether to continue with your intended journey or not.

6. Distance/Time Considerations

Some people enjoy taking long walks while running, but others prefer shorter routes. If your goal is to complete a full marathon, you’ll probably want to start working your way up to running a half marathon distance.

However, if your goal is only to log some miles, a shorter journey could be enough. Plan appropriately by considering what you want to achieve from each journey.

7. Fitness Level

The fitness levels required to run in challenging environments vary significantly from person to person. To begin with, you shouldn’t expect to be able to tackle a 10k or marathon without proper training.

Your body needs to adapt to the new demands placed upon it before you can take on longer distances. Even if you have experience running around town, it won’t necessarily translate to hiking or mountain trekking.

8. Availability Of Supplies 

There will be times when water availability (or other drinking fluids) become scarce. It’s best to bring along your own supplies, so you don’t have to worry about buying anything along the way.

9. Accessibility 

This factor will likely depend on how far away your destination is from home. If you live somewhere remote, you may find that it takes several hours to reach your location once you start out. In such cases, you’ll need to allow time for transportation delays.

That said, even if you live close to your destination, the distance to cover might still be too great to walk or drive. You should consider hiring a car service to help you out, especially if you are going through rugged terrain.

10. Weather Conditions

Although most of us know the importance of dressing correctly for the weather, we often forget that it applies just as well to running adventures.

For example, you wouldn’t want to go trekking in unsuitable shorts and T-shirts, so why would you like to attempt a long-distance hike wearing similar clothing?

Try to dress appropriately for the weather, both inside and outside the vehicle you’re using to get to the trails.

11. What To Eat And Drink

Carrying lots of food and drinks with you isn’t necessary. Marathons. Many beginners tend to underestimate their abilities. Don’t let this happen to you.

Once you recognize your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be better prepared to adjust accordingly.

12. Traveling Companions

If you’re planning a trip to a new area, it’s advisable to travel in groups. Not only does it make things easier for all involved, but it also helps keep everyone safe.

13. Budget 

Whether you are renting a car, booking a flight, paying for accommodation, or spending money on groceries to go trail running, you’ll need to budget.

But, it never hurts to carry some extra provisions just in case. Also, consider bringing along snacks and energy bars.

What To Wear Trail Running

What Is Trail Running?

To wear or not to wear: When it comes to trail running, there is no set rule book. Do what feels right for you. But, remember that you don’t always have to be buying expensive gear!

1. Clothes

Depending on where you’re headed, you may need to pack different outfits for various climates. A good thing to remember here is that with extra clothes you can always change into something else later.

2. Shoes

Your feet will be feeling a bit sore after a few days of walking. So, make sure to bring along comfortable shoes that fit you well.

3. Headgear

Remember those sunglasses you forgot at home? Well, now is the time to use them. Most importantly, though, bring along sunscreen and appropriate hats to protect yourself against sunburn.

4. First Aid Kit

No matter where you run, chances are you will come across injuries along the way. So make sure to bring along a first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, etc.

5. Other Essentials

Having a cell phone charger, rain jacket, and other miscellaneous items on hand will ensure that you stay prepared throughout the entire journey.


For starters, trail running is about being self-reliant. It means making smarter choices regarding everything from what to eat, which clothes to wear, and what to take on vacation.

Above all, it means taking care of your body and mind. This sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, it may not be nearly as complicated as it seems.

And when you look back on your adventure, you’ll realize that it was totally worth it. Happy trails!

Megan Rinzel
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