My first ever trail event was the Surf Coast (Half) Trail Marathon in 2013.
It was one of the hardest things I had done, but it also opened up the door to a world I would not expect to love and enjoy so much.
Since then I have done many trail events from Half Marathons to Ultras.
I’ve learned so much since my first trail event, and while not everyone will get into trail running this is for those that are interested in getting started.
Are Trails my next step?
Are road events not sparking joy or love anymore?
Have you run all the road distances from 5km to the marathon and looking for your next challenge?
Or are you bored with the roads?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then hitting the trails may need to be your next adventure.
So what is Trail Running?
Trail running is essentially off-road running on dirt roads, fire trails, forest trails, beaches, and single tracks.
With varying terrain, elevation, flora, and fauna no two trail runs are the same.
Pick a Trail
If you don’t feel confident tackling a bigger distance then start with a 5km or 10km event.
This will allow you to become familiar, with the terrain, your pace, and your effort.
Alternatively, pick a trail that you are already familiar with or that you have hiked before.
Use the gear you have
There is no need for you to buy all the fancy gear. Use what you have.
Don’t have trail shoes? I ran my first trail event in road shoes that I bought the day prior!
If a trail runner says they never hike the hills, they are lying. Hiking and trail running go hand in hand (sometimes also known as fast packing).
Hiking is a part of every trail runner’s life.
Throw your road pace expectations out the window.
Your pace out on the trails can vary significantly from the roads.
My fastest Road Half was at Canberra at a time of 1h43m24s.
While my fastest Trail Half was at Afterglow at a time of 2h09m47s.
That’s a difference of 26m23s or 1m15s per/km.
Why such a difference? The main factor other than terrain is elevation.
Did you know that roughly for every 100m of elevation, it is roughly the equivalent of running 1km at your 5km pace!
Run with a friend
Nothing like roping in a friend and sharing in the highs and lows.
The time will go so much quicker and you can encourage each other along the way.
Always tell someone where you are going and how long you’ll think you’ll be, regardless if you are running on your own or with a friend.
Carry your phone, even if you fall out of range, your phone will still have a last known location, which makes tracking easier if you get lost.
Practice Trail etiquette
Whatever you take in you take out.
Take only photos and leave only footprints.
Always give way to anyone coming down a track, especially if they are running as they have momentum on their side.
Remember that running brings you joy, and while trail running can be challenging you should be having fun.
Enjoy the scenery, the landscape will change every time you hit the trails.
Don’t forget to look up and take it all in!
Oh and sometimes you are just gonna get wet feet. Embrace it, it will make you feel like a kid again.