Trail Running Tips for Beginners

This post is sponsored by adidas.

Throughout my years of running I have come to learn that there is great joy in exploring trails in nature instead of just sticking to the pavement of suburbia. Not only do the trails offer less pressure to focus on time, most of them have great vistas along the way. Today I’ve partnered with adidas to share my top five trail running tips for beginners.

Top 5 Trail Running Tips

  1. Carefully plan your route ahead of time.
    The last thing you want to do is get lost on a new-to-you trail, so plan accordingly. I like to scout using google maps, Alltrails, hiking it first, or by going with a buddy who has done the trail before. I like to double check the weather because often inclement weather isn’t the best time to run a new trail. Starting a trail run before sunset has always worked best for me because there are often less hikers and especially less large groups where I run during that time of day.
  2. Wear the shoes that work best for you.
    It’s hard when you are first starting out to find a pair of running shoes that work well for you. I will tell you now, having run in a lot of different trail conditions that for most beginner trails you will not even need trail running shoes. If you do need a pair for better traction on rocky or steeper trails, you should choose a pair that offers similar features as your favorite road shoes. I love this pair of Terrex Soulstride Ultra Trail Running Shoes by adidas because the tread pattern looks grippy, they have an extra eyelet for a tight lace fit, plus they are partially made by recycled materials.
  3. When to pack water or a snack?
    Even on my shortest routes, I always have water waiting for me in the car. As a rule of thumb I will bring water only if the run is longer than 6 miles and/or gains more than 2000ft of elevation. I have a tight fitting hydration vest that I wear if this is the case. I will pack a small snack if I need to for over 8 miles and/or 3000ft of elevation gain. This may vary for everyone and that’s OK. You should use your best judgement for what works best for you.
  4. Wear appropriate clothing.
    Not only do you want your outfit to be comfortable, but it needs to be functional as well. I often prefer to wear leggings that cover my knees to trail run in just in case I fall and as an extra layer of protection in case I brush against a plant I shouldn’t have (see below). Long socks are also good for this. I also need clothing with more pockets than usual for a snack and my phone, key fob, and pepper spray. Running downhill can be rougher on the body than you think, look for a sports bra that is high impact with a secure fit. And lastly, wearing a lighter layer for a top is nice because some switchbacks and canyons can be cooler with more shade or more elevation, especially if you begin before sunset.
  5. Watch for plants & animals.
    Any time I run somewhere that is unpaved I am always weary of vegetation that may lean into the trail. Poison Oak is prevalent here and sometimes can look like bare branches. If you happen to brush against some or even think that you did, you can heavily spray that area of your skin with hand sanitizer that contains a high alcohol content to help dissolve the oils. Depending on what time of day you go, you’ll also need to look out for animals. In the wilder areas of California you will find bears, mountain lions, snakes, bobcats, etc. Wild animals are usually more active around dusk and dawn with the exception of snakes. I had a rattlesnake in the bushes scare me almost off the trail before when it shook it’s rattles as I ran by. To be honest I probably ran up on it so quickly that I scared it as well.
  6. Wear sun protection. Period.
    You cannot always predict the exposure level on trails, sometimes they are shaded in spring but open sun in the summer or fall. I always, always wear sunscreen when I am trail running. I do not like to run in a hat unless it’s very cold because I tend to heat up easily. Even so, even in the dead of winter I will wear sunscreen outdoors.

That’s it, happy trail running!

This post is sponsored by adidas, all images and opinions are my own. Thank you so much for helping to support the sponsors that make life here at Hej Doll a little easier.


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