Tips for Trail Running

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I’m heading out the door for a 10+ mile (hopefully) trail run with MeghannI LOVE TRAIL RUNS.

I am one of those people who NEED nature.  I could never, ever live in a concrete jungle like New York City.  I need trees and water and fresh air.


Trail runs are beautiful…


Trail runs are MUDDY!




And getting dirty is fun! :)  (By the way, wearing mascara to a race – I have no idea why I did that – is a bad idea because you end up with raccoon eyes.)


Trail runs are nice on your knees and joints…

Triathalon Relay 031

But most of all, TRAIL RUNS ARE FUN!


I have done a 10K race, a sprint duathlon, a team relay triathlon, and a 15-mile race on the trails.  


My next big trail race is on April 10, and it’s another 15-miler.  I am very excited!  Although I didn’t train specifically on the trails last year, I’m going to try to do a trail run at least once a weekend until April 10 in preparation of the race.  I think it will help a lot.


Tips for Trail Runs:


  • Watch the ground ahead of you – keep an eye out for roots, holes, and rocks, or you might end up with a twisted ankle.
  • Regular road sneakers will be fine on flatter trail courses, but trail shoes are best (I don’t have any).
  • Run with a friend.  Never, ever run in the forest alone!
  • Go slow – trail running is softer on your joints, but you use more muscles to steady yourself and will feel quite sore the next day.
  • Always carry a cell phone and identification with you.
  • Tell someone where you and your buddy are going!
  • Use your arms to help balance you as you head down hills.  Run “tall” down and up hills – don’t slouch!
  • Carry a CamelBak or hydration belt to ensure you have enough water.
  • Leave no trace – don’t drop your goo packets or other trash! 
  • Have fun!


See you later with a recap.  🙂


Any other trail runners have some tips?



  • Heather (Heather's Dish) February 20, 2010, 9:55 am

    i LOVE trail runs too! it’s so nice to have tons of places to do them in colorado…i love hiking up and then running down. it’s so thrilling to hop around rocks and everything then sprint it in on the flat parts! hope you ladies have a fabulous, dirty, muddy time 🙂

  • Nicole, RD February 20, 2010, 10:00 am

    I love trail runs, too…but they always leave me whipped. I think I’m always overly cautious as to not trip or step into a hole. But I do think there’s better trails with safer surfaces than here. Chicago actually had great trails! Have fun!

  • Freya @ February 20, 2010, 10:02 am

    What beautiful scenery! I’d love to go trail running 🙂
    And YAY for the 10miles!! I did 10miles this morning too – only on the raods though sadly…
    Good tip about the mascara – I’ll remember that next time 😛 Though sometimes panda eyes can give quite a smokey makeup effect look…..!
    Enjoy the run 🙂

  • Sam (Merit to the Carrot) February 20, 2010, 10:07 am

    Never done a trail run, but I have indeed experienced some sick raccoon eyes. Never want to do that again.

  • Angela (The Lady Loves to Eat) February 20, 2010, 10:10 am

    I’m the same, I could never live in a city with no trees! I have never ran on trails but I can imagine it is not easy! good luck with your run!

  • Katie February 20, 2010, 10:11 am

    There are trees, water and fresh air in New York, too! We have to huge parks in Manhattan itself with ponds, trails, footpaths and wildlife, large parks in the outer boroughs like Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Astoria Park in Queens, and many other smaller natural finds.

  • Avery February 20, 2010, 10:12 am

    I live in New York City and I miss nature soooo much! Whenever I tell people that they get mad and say “but Central Park is so big, just go there”. It is soooo not the same! A park smack in the middle of giant buildings? Pretty, but it doesn’t feel like nature!

  • healthy ashley February 20, 2010, 10:17 am

    I want to do a trail run with you guys soon!!! I won’t run in the woods alone!

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans February 20, 2010, 10:22 am

    Watch out for wildlife! When I lived in Maine I came across a moose bright and early running on a trail by myself and I have had a couple of close calls with some pretty big snakes (my kryptonite) while living in Arizona!

  • Danielle (Coffee Run) February 20, 2010, 10:23 am

    Thanks for the tips! Running a trail race is on my “fitness bucket list.” I’ve been lusting over those CamelBaks

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg February 20, 2010, 10:31 am

    Very fun!!! I’ve only done a little trail running, but it’s SO much fun– I agree with you, it’s so nice to get out in nature!

  • Jenn @ Livewellfit February 20, 2010, 10:41 am

    Funny enough…I’ve never done a trail run before! And I’m such a nature gal. Something is wrong here 🙂

    I can’t wait for the weather in Boston to warm up so I can get out there!

  • Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 20, 2010, 10:47 am

    All i know about trail running is that New Balance trail running shoes are the best athletic shoes I’ve ever worn! I’m jealous you get so much outside time… it’s supposed to snow here. Again.

  • Kelly @ Healthy Passion February 20, 2010, 10:56 am

    I love those muscle legs…sexy mama!!!

  • Becky February 20, 2010, 10:56 am

    My first 5K was on a trail and it was only the second trail run I did. I haven’t been on a trail since, but I think it’s time to get back out there…once the ice and snow melt, boo!

  • Caitlin @ Right Foot Forward February 20, 2010, 11:03 am

    Thanks for the tips on trail running! Now that I have a garmin, I’m going to start exploring the trails in central park. I used to feel limited to the road so that I could roughly gauge my pace. Have fun today!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing February 20, 2010, 11:03 am

    That sounds like so much fun! I’ve never ran on a trail before. 🙁 Need to fix that!

  • Gabriela February 20, 2010, 11:20 am

    Trail runs look so cool!
    I did a trail run once with my Mom (an ex-marathoner), and it was SO much fun!
    Oh, and loved the fact that you´ve found a good veggie burguer at a burguer place! That´s rare 😉
    Have a great Saturday!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople February 20, 2010, 11:29 am

    Lol, I am the exact opposite. Just THINKING about getting that dirty would make me not want to move a muscle. I’ll stick to my “boring” treadmill. That way I can watch TV and read. =P

  • Island Girl Eats February 20, 2010, 11:36 am

    I am so JEALOUS!!!!!! Living on an island is nice, but the running here is no fun! I wish that we had all the beauty and nature that you guys have around you. It is so beautiful. If I had parks and trails, I would be out every weekend running and going for picnics. You are so lucky!

    Hope you have a great run!

  • Molly February 20, 2010, 11:43 am

    Ahhh that trail looks so pretty.. most definitely would not get bored in the scenery department.
    Great tips! Now.. I have to find the trail to utilize those tips.. hmm

    • Molly February 20, 2010, 11:43 am

      oh and the nice non wintery weather

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] February 20, 2010, 11:46 am

    Pretty pedicure ; )

  • Andrea ( February 20, 2010, 11:46 am

    Good luck, lady! Thanks for the info on trail running. Sounds fun!

  • Catherine February 20, 2010, 11:50 am

    I’ve actually never tried trail running… living in the city doesn’t leave many options for trails I suppose. Can’t wait for the summer though when I can go back to CT and run around the wilderness by my parents house.

  • Susan February 20, 2010, 11:51 am

    I have no tips, but I have to say I LOVE trail running. When I first moved my runs from the treadmill to outdoors, I hated it. I was running on sidewalks along busy streets and I always came back feeling cranky and defeated. Then I found a trail close by and I finally “clicked” with running. I love how deserted it is, the trees, rivers, wildlife, soft ground beneath my feet. Trail running is also best at sunrise!

  • Shelly February 20, 2010, 12:22 pm

    The trail run race I ran last year is famed for having a big water hazard that you have to get through. Unfortunately, it was a “1” last year, but the past couple of years it had been a 6 or a 7. So I just ran around it because people where stuck in the mud looking for their shoes and I didn’t want to lose my shoes or hold up traffic. (Some years, the water is impossible to avoid.) Later, I learned that the way to avoid losing your shoes is to duct tape them to your ankles! I’m not sure how comfortable that would be though.
    I think my trail running tip is to forget about running for a time. The trail race I ran had a really narrow trail for the last half of the race and once you were in that part, you weren’t going any faster than the person in front of you! The only downside to that was that at one point I got behind the kind of person who wanted to run really fast (for them- it was a comfortable pace for me) and then stop suddenly and rest. Not good when there is a giant line of people behind you. I was able to squeeze past him the second time he stopped, but it was frustrating. Try to keep a steady pace! I think this guy wanted a good place going into the narrow part, but then burned himself out in the early parts of the race.
    Oh and the race was hilarious because there were a lot of trees and stumps and vines to jump over, so whenever you jumped over a hazard, you’d yell out what it was so people would know it was coming, like “stump!” at one point we all hear “Big Fucking Hole!!!” I cracked up!
    I’m totally running that race again this year! 🙂

    • Shelly February 20, 2010, 12:23 pm

      Oh, also there is a big tradition of racing in costume in New Orleans. So there were girls running the trail in short prom dresses they’d gotten from goodwill and guys running in suits with the arms and legs cut off. (I think that a few of them were also carrying briefcases with beers in them.) Of course, they made a point to get as muddy as possible!

  • Daniel February 20, 2010, 12:57 pm

    I can’t wait until it warms up – there’s a huge reserve on my campus and it would be great to try out trail running!

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin February 20, 2010, 1:20 pm

    Oh, I wish I had a trail to run! Here in Southern California, all our “trails” are on HUGE hills or mountains! I can really only stand to walk those after a while… 😉

    Thanks for the tips! I’m thinking of buying a camelback for hydrating during my long runs. I’m sick of carrying a water bottle!

  • Anne P February 20, 2010, 1:27 pm

    I’m the same way about needing nature. I get so cranky if I’m stuck in a concrete filled city!!

  • Kelly February 20, 2010, 1:45 pm

    I love getting dirty, it makes me feel like so much more of an athlete. When I played field hockey in high school, if I ended a game without grass stains and dirt all over my shin guards I didn’t feel like I played hard enough.

  • Jul February 20, 2010, 2:11 pm

    Thank you for the tips! I’d love to learn more about trail running. Running on dirt makes such a wonderful difference for me. I wish I could do all my running on trails!

  • caronae February 20, 2010, 3:18 pm

    Trail running makes me happy 🙂
    I’m from michigan, but I live in NYC now, so I don’t have too many trail options, sadly 🙁
    Thanks for the tips. I think it can be okay to run a trail alone, as long as you are prepared and know the area. I don’t have any running partners at home, so I do this, and it is soooo peaceful.
    One tip i would add is don’t freak out if your pace is slower than normal! The hills and tricky terrain can slow you down, and that’s okay!

  • Ashlyn @ Excogitations of a Running Nerd February 20, 2010, 3:22 pm

    Ditto on the LNT principles-nothing bothers me more than seeing litter out on what is supposed to be a pristine trail! Agh-makes me see red…

  • Matt February 20, 2010, 4:39 pm

    Trail runs are awesome, aren’t they?? I credit trail running with turning me into a real runner, because it made me start actually enjoying it instead of just trying to go fast!

    Hmm, tips… I’m new to it too, so I don’t have much to add. Maybe just bring along a change of socks, shoes, a towel, and all that stuff, because you never know how wet and dirty you’ll be. But that’s what’s so much fun.

    And drink beer afterward. The best part.

  • Amy February 20, 2010, 4:40 pm

    I love your trail tips, especially the one about no littering! Let’s keep it beautiful. I also loved that you didn’t feed the cranes – good job! The picture of the solo crane is awesome. I miss Florida!

  • Kristilyn (My 29th Year) February 20, 2010, 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I have one question though, how do you clean your shoes after a muddy run? Washing machine?

    I just bought new runners last month and haven’t worn them outside yet – they’re too pretty to get dirty! LOL!


    • Caitlin February 20, 2010, 7:32 pm

      i scrub them in the kitchen sink with soap and a brush but DONT put them in the washer! it will deform them.

  • meg c. February 20, 2010, 7:57 pm

    uneven terrain can actually be brutal on your joints. that’s how i injured my hip last year i’m pretty sure! overall the softer surface is good for them but uneven terrain can be pretty tough. trail shoes are a good investment if you’re doing a lot of trail training.

  • Dena Maddie April 10, 2013, 1:10 am

    Take smaller steps so that your feet are right underneath you. If you trip on something you can catch yourself more easily 🙂

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