Trail Running Tips for All Levels of Runners

I was never into running, let alone trail running.

I went out for the track team my freshman year in high school, and during the first practice, my coach told me, “You look like an excellent distance runner.” My blood ran cold. Run distance? I didn’t want to do that. So, on our normal 1-mile run, everyone else ran the out-and-back, and I ran home. Never to go out for the track team again.

It’s ironic that 10+ years on, I’m attempting 100-mile races, running 4+ days a week, and using running while traveling as a means to explore. But that’s why I want to help others like me. I didn’t understand why people ran, which led to me not doing it. Once I learned the fun, community, and discipline that came with running, I was hooked. And that’s especially true for trail running.

So, I hope to help others like me. You discovered trail running, and it seems like a great ass time. Simply cruising along dirt trails with nothing but clean air and the crunch under your shoes riles up something inside you.

And now you’re addicted. But you’re not sure where to start.

You’ve listened to trail running podcasts, found out how to stay safe on the trails, and even bought some hot new shoes. But where do you go from here?

Come along with me, and I’ll help teach what I’ve learned thus far.

Beginner trail running tips and articles ⬇️

It’s daunting hitting the trails.

Trust me, I know. I felt like a fraud the first year I started running on trails. People would ask for advice, and I’d give it. But I didn’t feel like I was an actual trail runner…barely even a runner at all.

But I’m here to help you realize something that took me forever.

If you run, you’re a runner. Period.

And if you run on trails, you’re a trail runner! PERIOD. So, kick off the shame and shyness, and let’s get you started on your journey today so you can start exploring. You’ll thank yourself later.

Trust me.

Here are some resources to get you started:

A joyful trail runner equipped with a hydration pack and trekking poles navigates a wooded trail, epitomizing trail running safety, with 'Trail Running Safety' written in bold letters over the image.
A male runner in sportswear and orange running shoes strides along a forest trail under a clear blue sky, with the motivational text 'Starting Running Today' overlaid in bold on the image.
A runner gazes out over the expansive view of the Grand Canyon, embodying the essence of motivation with the phrase 'Motivate Yourself to Run' superimposed on the image, encouraging the spirit of adventure in running.

Want more advanced trail running tips? I got you 👌

Already have some trail running experience, but not sure where to learn more?

Well, I’ve been there, too.

Trail running is becoming more popular, but it’s still a relatively niche sport. So, finding information can be hard sometimes.

So, I do my best to relay all the information I’ve found so you can save yourself time. And, trust me, it’s been A LOT of time. Through a mixture of books, studies, podcasts, articles, and hundreds of other media methods, I’m constantly updating these posts and adding new ones to help others like me.

Be sure to check back for more in the future.

In the meantime, here are some resources to help you:

A trail runner with a hydration vest pauses at the start of an uphill dirt path, under a cloudy sky, ready to tackle the ascent, complemented by the text 'Uphill Running Tips' across the image, suggesting a focus on techniques for incline running.
A night-time trail runner wearing a headlamp smiles as he navigates a downhill terrain, illuminated against the dark foliage, with the guiding words 'How to Run Downhill' emblazoned over the image, offering insight into proper techniques for descending trails.
A happy male runner stands proudly at the finish line of the 'Supersports 10 Mile International Run 2018 Phuket', displaying his medal, with a background banner reading 'Find Trails Worldwide', capturing the essence trail running tips to inspire global running adventures.

Trail running Resources that have helped me

I don’t claim to be some genius (complete opposite).

I like to read, listen, and dive as deeply into topics I love. And trail running is one of those.

Luckily, I could navigate the bad advice and poor training tips to find some real gems in the trail running world. From simple tips, a good laugh, or comprehensive research I can barely understand, these people/options should also become your go-to resources.

Here are the ones I love:

General trail running reading, advice, and tips

Websites

  • Trail Runner Magazine: A trusted source for trail running enthusiasts, providing articles, tips, and information on trail running events and gear.
  • iRunFar: Offers valuable information on trail running, race coverage, gear reviews, and training advice. It serves as a comprehensive hub for the trail running community.
  • Trail and Kale: Offers outdoor enthusiasts a wealth of content, including trail running, hiking, and wellness tips, making it a valuable resource for active individuals.
  • Road Trail Run: A website for running enthusiasts, providing reviews on shoes and gear and valuable running insights.

Books

  • The Rise of Ultra Runners: Adharanand Finn’s book delves into ultra running’s evolution from a niche activity to a thriving global phenomenon with a massive following.
  • Out of Thin Air: Michael Crawley offers a glimpse into the world of a Scottish marathon runner training with Ethiopian athletes, exploring their lives and running culture.
  • Ultramarathon Man: Dean Karnazes shares his remarkable journey as an ultramarathon runner, pushing the limits of human endurance and exploring the world’s most challenging races.

Podcasts

  • Trail Runner Nation: A podcast for trail running enthusiasts covering training, gear, nutrition, and inspiring stories.
  • Crack a Brew with AJW: AJW shares trail running stories, life experiences, and enjoys a beer.
  • The Freetrail Podcast: Explores trail running adventures, gear, and interviews with trail runners, providing insights and inspiration for enthusiasts.
  • Trail Society: They celebrate trail running culture, featuring interviews with runners and race directors and discussions about trail running experiences and insights.
  • Ultrarunning History: Dives into the rich history of ultramarathons, sharing stories of legendary runners and iconic races in the world of ultrarunning.
  • Cultra Trail Running Podcast: Focuses on trail running culture. It features interviews, discussions, and humorous content related to trail running experiences and community.

People

  • Kilian Jornet: Renowned ultrarunner and mountain athlete known for his numerous trail running achievements and mountaineering expeditions.
  • Dylan Bowman: Professional ultrarunner known for his competitive spirit and impressive trail running performances in races worldwide.
  • Corrine Malcolm: Professional trail and ultrarunner, promoting women’s participation in outdoor sports through her athletic achievements.
  • Courtney Dauwalter: Elite ultrarunner celebrated for her extraordinary endurance and numerous ultramarathon victories.
  • Jim Walmsley: Top ultrarunner and course record holder in numerous ultra races, known for his incredible speed and trail running dominance.

Trail Running Training and Science

Websites

  • Science of Ultra: A resource for endurance athletes, offering podcasts and articles exploring the scientific aspects of ultra-endurance sports, training, and performance optimization.

Books

  • Relentless Forward Progress: Bryon Powell’s comprehensive guide to trail running offers essential tips and insights for beginners and experienced runners alike.
  • Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: Jason Koop’s vital guide for novice and experienced ultramarathoners offers scientific insights for race success.
  • Do Hard Things: Steve Magness’ book emphasizes pushing one’s limits in training and life to achieve extraordinary results.
  • Endure: Alex Hutchinson delves into the science of endurance, exploring the limits of human performance and revealing the role of the mind in pushing beyond boundaries.

Podcasts

  • Science of Ultra Podcast: Provides in-depth discussions on the scientific aspects of ultra-endurance sports, training methodologies, nutrition, and performance optimization.
  • Some Work, All Play: Explores the balance between work and play in endurance sports, featuring discussions on training, racing, and the joy of outdoor adventures.
  • KoopCast: Features discussions on trail and ultrarunning, training techniques, athlete interviews, and insights into the world of endurance sports.

People

  • Jason Koop: Elite ultrarunner and accomplished coach, guiding athletes to success in trail and ultrarunning events.
  • David Roche: Respected trail and ultrarunning coach known for expertise in training athletes for endurance success.
  • Steve Magness: Coach, author, and sports scientist specializing in distance running and human performance.