Trail Running Tips (for beginners)

trail running keep calmI have been in a running rut. I do the same routes. Mornings before work I do a 3 mile out and back. Weekends I have a longer loop that I can make anywhere from 5-10 miles. I am lucky, because I live in a very scenic, picturesque New England town. But, no matter how cute the route and how many dogs I may run by, it gets old.

meg trail headSo, on Friday I set out for a long run and went a different way. About 2 miles in I came across a little nature conservancy. The trail head showed there were a few trails one of which was .68 miles and the other which was just over 4 miles. I decided to go for the 4 mile route with no intention of completing it. sweet trail

It was hot out and I had already consumed a good portion of my water so I was happy to be in the woods and out of the direct sunlight. I ran/ walked/ tripped through the woods for about 2 miles before turning around. My mile times while in the woods varied from 12 min/ mile to a 16 min/ mile. Not a great mile time but a wicked awesome workout! I was very sore after the run and the next day. I worked different muscles and truly enjoyed my run and the scenic views. I am not an experienced trail runner, so below are some tips from one novice to another.

Trail Running Tips

Check out a map! Or at least the trail head. Let me tell you a story, about a girl who decided to use her lunch break to go on a little trail run. She got lost. Dehydrated. And returned to work 3 hours later, disoriented and smelly. So, you should take the extra time and do some research before hitting the trail. Most maps will tell you how difficult the trail is. Plan accordingly. You probably do not want your first trail run to have a lot of high elevations. I also suggest finding a trail where there will be great views to make all the extra effort worth it.

Views like this could be yours!
Views like this could be yours!

Dress accordingly. Your running sneakers may not be what you need/ want depending on the trail. You might want to look into shoes that have better grips, that are designed for trail running.  Or, you might want to wear old shoes you don’t care about because they prob will get muddy. Depending on time of year, dressing in layers is probably your best bet. As your elevation increases you may wish you had more clothes. Light layers are where it’s at! Don’t forget about wearing bug spray and sunscreen. My mom shared keeping a dryer sheet in your pocket works as a bug repellent. I plan on trying this theory out this week. I’ll keep ya posted!


Tread lightly… and carefully. So, on this most recent jaunt I was on a marshy trail. There were some wooden bridges that were nice and flat so I went to sprint across them and almost died. Wet wood (dirty…)= slippery. Be careful! Take your time. The only people I saw on this trail were 2 high school aged stoners. Personally, I do not want these 2 fine young men driving me to the hospital in their mother’s minivan if I were to break an ankle. I suggest taking quicker smaller strides. Be weary of wet leaves, rocks, loose rocks, roots etc. And make sure to take your time when descending. It is too easy to roll an ankle! You are not going to have your fastest mile time, and that is okay. Enjoy the views and working thigh muscles you did not know existed.

Bring water! Even if you don’t typically you totally should on a trail run. The news constantly has  stories of people who did not bring water because they were just going for a short hike and then they get lost and have to drink their urine. Don’t let this be you. Bring water. I use a really sexy camelbak running belt that has a water bottle holder and a little pocket I can put snacks in. I’d suggest something like this. trail running meme

Selfies would not be necessary if your BFFL is there with ya!
Selfies would not be necessary if your BFFL is there with ya!

Bring a friend… or at least let a friend know and turn GPS tracking on your phone. I hear running is a fun social activity. Since my buddy, Sarah and I graduated from UMass I have not found a running partner. Trail running with a friend makes it way safer and when you come across a deer (or 2 sketchy stoners) you have someone you can share these moments with. If you are like me and no one wants to run with you, I suggest sending a pal a quick text where you are and when you expect to be done. Upgrade to MapMyRun MVP, turn that live tracking on and go on your loner way. Better safe than laying on a deserted hiking trails praying those stoners come back for you.

Happy trails!


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