Trail running tips & tricks for beginners

Trail runner from behind running on the way in front of mountain scenery

9 Tips for trail running beginners

Trail running is becoming increasingly popular. The fun of versatile, varied running and the experience in nature are here in the first place. And the great thing is: starting trail running is easier than you think!

In the following we have nine basic tips and tricks for all trail running newbies who would like to dare the adventure "running in the mountains".

1. approach slowly

Whether you are already an ambitious runner or not, a slow trial and error is important to get the body used to the unfamiliar load and the new surface .

Do not start immediately with a steep climb (caution: loss of motivation!), but start with hill runs.

You can also go up a mountain in a gondola and gain your first experience at the top. Here you will already be rewarded with a great view without having completely exhausted yourself.

Runner on trail in forest from behind

2. the right shoes are crucial

For running off-road, special trail running shoes are best suited.

These shoes have features such as a reinforced toe cap, a distinctive profile and more resistant outer material, which provide you with optimal protection, good grip and the best possible support when running over hill and dale.

Note: Trail running shoes are not as cushioned as your normal road running shoes.

Trail running shoes from below against mountain backdrop

Trail running shoes at Sport Bittl

3. backpack yes or no?

A definite yes! A well-fitting, close-fitting trail running backpack is a must for unforgettable trail running adventures. Especially when you are out in nature or in the mountains, the following small items should not be missing:

Trail running backpack on man while it runs

Trail running backpacks at Sport Bittl

4. how much fluid is necessary?

Of course, this depends primarily on how long you are on the road. However, our trail running experts recommend at least one liter of (sports) drinks containing minerals or juices diluted with water .

Note: no carbonic acid! This can lead to a bloated, uncomfortable feeling.

Choose drinks that give you power and energy for the strenuous climb. "Pure" water will not be able to do this at this moment and will remain in your "stomach".

two runners running across a meadow in the sunset

5. trail running poles

Trail running poles provide you with numerous advantages for running off-road:

  • More safety, minimizes the risk of injury
  • Relief of the entire musculoskeletal system
  • Slower fatigue of the muscles
  • Trailrunning poles provide significant propulsion

How to find the right pole length: Simply calculate your height times 0.66. Example: You are 1.80 m tall , then your ideal pole length is 120 cm (rounded).

Runner holds trail running poles

6. the right orientation

Before you set out on the trail, you should inform yourself about the route / the path (map check, route & location maps or similar). Do not simply go into unknown terrain.

GPS watches such as the Garmin Forerunner or the Garmin Fenix, on which you can load your selected route, can be an advantage here.

to the GPS watches

Trail runner running over mountain grade uphill with mountains in background

7. run uphill properly

  1. Do not take too large or long steps. With short steps you can react faster & easier to the changing ground.
  2. Even if it is called trail running. If the terrain becomes too steep or the steps too high, it is advisable to switch to walking mode.
  3. Use your trail running poles. This will ensure slower fatigue in your legs.
  4. If you don't have trail running poles, push off with your hands on your knees when needed. This will save energy.
  5. Always arrive at the top with a reserve! You still have to run safely back downhill.
Woman running up a trail in the forest

8. run downhill correctly

  1. Run anticipating & adapting to the terrain.
  2. Run forefoot if possible to minimize the heavy load on the knees.
    • Little trick: On scree & loose ground: land on forefoot & "slide into stride".
  3. Keep your upper body in front.
  4. Approach slowly & don't rush.
  5. If you feel unsure: Switch to walking mode here as well.
Trail runner jumps down in the forest on the trail

9. the right tempo

How fast should you run off-road? Of course, this depends primarily on your training condition and experience.

Basically, you are slower on the trail than on the road. Always adapt your speed to the surface, the steepness and the condition of the trail .

Note: The risk of injury is much higher when trail running than when running on asphalt. Coordination and concentration are essential.

Trail runner from behind against mountain backdrop