Beginner guide to trail running

Beginner guide to trail running

by Bre Mirynech

New to running on the trails? We’ve all been there. Whether you’re trying to switch it up from road to trails, are an avid hiker looking to cover a little more distance on your days out, or just a lover of movement looking for a new challenge, it can feel daunting getting into a new sport. So, if you’re looking to hit the trails for your first-time trail running, here are some tips to get you started. 


Trail running doesn’t have to take place in the mountains or remote places. Trails exist close to home, along the rivers, through the forests, and in so many places. Look up some trails online that are near to you or head into your local running store for some inspiration. If you’re running with a friend, look for a new place to explore. Make sure to leave a plan with someone if you’re heading out somewhere remote. If you’re heading out solo and feeling a little nervous, then pick a trail close to home. The great thing about trail running is that the options are endless, so pick something that feels exciting to you. As you get more comfortable, you can make a wish list of trails you want to hit. Trust us, that list will get long! 


Arguably one of the best parts, make sure to get some snacks! Gels are very common with trail runners, as are candy, bars, pickles, fruit, and more. The longer you’re running, the more nutrition is important. For your first few times out, don’t stress too much and just see what works for you. Pick some of your favourite snacks and see what sits well in your stomach. Also consider food that is easy to carry. Gels or bars are compact and tend to stay in one piece, whereas chips take up a lot of space or a banana gets bruised easily.  What works for someone might be different for you, so have fun experimenting to see what you like. Gels are often designed with the stomach in mind, so they can be a great place to start. The Xact Energy Fruit Bars are my personal favourite and have everything I need to get through a run. 


If snacks are one of the best parts, then hydration might just be the most important part. Make sure to bring enough water with you for your run. Electrolytes, such as the Xact Electrolyte Hydration Tabs, are also a great help to keep you hydrated (not to mention they taste great). If you’re heading out for a short run, then tailor your water accordingly. If you’re going out for a long run, then make sure you have what you need or search for water sources along your route where you can refill if needed. Staying hydrated is such a simple thing to do that can make or break your day. 


This may seem like an intimidating part, but really the needs are quite simple and chances are you might have most of these belongings at home already. 

  1. Trail shoes: Different from your road runners, having a pair of trail shoes you love is important. There are so many options and brands out there that it can feel intimidating, but just head to your local running store and they will help find your perfect fit. 
  2. Hydration pack: having a vest to store water, snacks, bear spray, and more will make your time on the trails much easier and more comfortable. It allows you to bring the things you need without bouncing on your back like a backpack. Find one that fits you comfortably and has the features you like, such as pockets or pole straps. 
  3. Socks: once you’ve found your perfect shoes, it’s time to find some socks to match. Find a sock that is breathable, fits well so it doesn’t rub or create blisters, and helps to wick away moisture. 
  4. Sun protection: a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are what you need for your day out. The sun is so strong on these long, hot, summer days, that keeping yourself protected is so important. Even in the winter these items are key as the sun reflects off of the snow. 
  5. Safety: depending on which trail you’re choosing; safety items may vary. This can include items such as bear spray, an inreach, emergency blanket, first-aid kit, helmet, etc. If you’re venturing close to home, many of these things can stay home. However, if you’re out for a full day, then being prepared is very important. 

Trail running is a whole new world of opportunities for you to discover. Although it may seem intimidating at first, trail running is what you make it. Flat, vertical, technical, or remote- the adventure is up to you. Just follow these simple tips to get started, and you’ll surprise yourself with how fast you learn and where you end up. Insider secret: it’s ok to walk uphill. Have fun, enjoy nature, and get that body moving! At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.