Running Tips for Beginner Trail Runners


….and My Story Runs On….

I’m finally getting some of my “road” runners to drink the Kool Aid 😉  The trail running Kool Aid that is!

I’ll be honest, I remember the days when I used to hike and see trail runners out there.  I’d call them “freaks” in my head….I’d think “what are they crazy? They’re going to fall down and hurt themselves.”  Then a few years ago (and for the life of me I can’t remember what hit me) I decided I wanted to try trail running….and I did…and I’m hooked!  I don’t mind road running (my trail running has actually improved my road running) but if given a choice, I’ll hit a trail any day first.

I have a schpeel (had to look up how to spell this word ;)) that I give my newbie trail runners that I’d like to share because it can help you too:

  1. Pick an easy off-road trail. Don’t pick a trail with a lot of hills on your first time.
  2. You are more than likely going to take a fall at some point so don’t keep thinking about it.  Acknowledge the possibility and move on. You’ll deal with it when it happens, no sense in adding this stress to the situation.  Make sure your core is engaged because this well help with stability.
  3. Look for all the OPEN spaces to put your feet.  Most people focus on where NOT To put their feet.  Your eyes will find what you are looking for so if you look for obstacles, that’s what you’ll find.  Look for all those OPEN spots.  Same idea when you buy that new car or are pregnant and all of the sudden that’s all you see around you.
  4. Start out slow with short strides.  Don’t try to make big jumps in between open spots. I like to think of it as a dance sometimes.
  5. Keep your eyes focused ahead of you so you can see the terrain as it comes at you.  This will get easier with experience.
  6. As a ChiRunner, you will always shoot for a midfoot landing but sometimes the open spots are smaller so aim with the top part of your foot. This will engage your calves more so be aware not to do it all the time.
  7. Make sure are bending your knees. One of the most common reasons people fall is because their heel doesn’t go high enough behind them and they trip on a protruding rock.  Sometimes I even over-exaggerate knee bending when there are bigger rocks around. (Again, more than likely a fall will happen but we try to avoid those as much as possible with proper technique).
  8. It’s totally OK to walk!  I prefer ChiWalking myself but you get the idea.  Trails are more challenging and will tend to get your heart rate up. Don’t worry about walking if you need to take a break (and enjoy nature too)…
  9. Enjoy nature.  Stop and take photos and enjoy nature at it’s best. This is one of the main reasons I love trail running.

Hope these help you!  If you have any other good tips for beginner trail runners, please comment below so we can all learn from each other!

I also highly recommend the ChiRunning Hills and Trails DVD.  You’ll find some of these tips and more, especially the hills part!

One of my favorite DVDs!  I love hills and trail because of ChiRunning ;)

One of my favorite DVDs! I love hills and trail because of ChiRunning 😉

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

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2 thoughts on “Running Tips for Beginner Trail Runners

  1. I love to run the trails as well, Lisa. It just seems like a very peaceful time when I am out there. Yes, you have to be careful and you are correct, everyone falls eventually, but it is still an exhilarating experience. Thanks for sharing!

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