Trail Athletes

Trail Running


Trail running is a sport which consists of running and hiking over trails. It differs from road running and track running in that it generally takes place on hiking trails, often in mountainous terrain, where there can be much larger ascents and descents. Trail running differs from cross country running. In general, cross country is an IAAF governed discipline that is typically raced over shorter distances (rarely over 12 kilometers), whereas trail running is loosely governed and run over longer routes.


Trail running allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery nature has to offer, while simultaneously getting an excellent workout. The following information will help you transition your roadside or treadmill run to the great outdoors.

Types of trails

Groomed trails: Many local outdoor sites have packed-dirt paths. These smooth, soft surfaces are a great way to reduce impact without the added hazards of rocks and roots.

Hiking trails: Hiking trails typically have obstacles such as rocks, roots and uneven surfaces that challenge your balance and running mechanics. These trails make for a great workout.

Equipment tips

  • The correct equipment will be the difference between a good experience and a potentially unsafe experience. Given the type of terrain you are running on, a good pair of trail running shoes is paramount. They offer better lateral and heel support than standard running shoes and usually have a heavier tread pattern for traction on the trails
  • Trail running may involve water, possibly soaking your socks and shoes. Traditional cotton socks increase the likelihood for blistering. Select socks made from synthetic fibres or breathable socks that help keep your feet cool and help prevent blisters
  • When running trails at altitude, sudden temperature changes are possible, so layer your clothing. Wear clothing that allows your body to cool, yet wicks away moisture from sweat. Wet clothing against your skin may shuttle necessary heat out of your body, especially at higher, cooler altitudes
  • Taking a pole or stick with you is always a good idea. Not only can it help stabilise your body over tricky terrain, but it can also come in handy when fending off any unexpected wildlife


Safety tips

  • Hike a trail for the first time to become familiar with it, then progress to a run. Never run alone, especially when running on trails far off the beaten path
  • Carry various forms of communication devices with you. Examples include a whistle, satellite-GPS device or cellphone in case reception is available
  • Carry some basic first-aid supplies. Examples include bandages, some athletic tape, a knife and anti-bacterial ointment
  • Distribute the weight of items evenly around your body. Try to carry most of the weight at the hips

Running tips

  • Bend your knees during descents to prevent possible knee injuries from hyperextension. Also avoid leaning back excessively on descents to prevent your feet from slipping out from under you on loose surfaces
  • Keep your head up to enhance forward momentum and drive with your arms from the shoulders, not the elbows
  • Use shorter strides on steeper terrain for energy efficiency and increased power