Your Guide to Start Trail Running

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Person walking along a forest path illuminated by the sun. ©Justin Paget

Trail running sounds idyllic. With no paved roads, the natural trail feels much more pleasant, no cars honking or ambulance sirens. Just the trees, the birds and the sound of your own breathing. Plus, simply being surrounded by nature has been shown to have profound benefits for mental and physical health, as well as promoting lower blood pressure and stress hormones.

And it can also be a break from your running routine. One of the things that can demotivate runners the most is that there comes a point when the circuits, schedules and exercise sensations end up always being the same. You even end up seeing the same faces when you’re out running! So maybe it’s a good time to try something different. Trail running is a form of exercise that’s perfect for anyone who wants to make physical progress by combining running with hiking.

But it can also be a bit intimidating. Rather than just tying your laces and setting off, trail running requires more preparation. And there are no cafeterias or convenience stores to help you if you run out of water or need a pit stop. Do you think it could be your thing? Any questions about how you’d get on with this activity? Our colleague Lara Serlin, who works in the customer relations team here at foodspring, has just finished her first trail run and is sharing her impressions with us.

 Escape from the city

I’ve been part of a running club in Berlin for a while now and one of my team members organized everything. She had already taken part in some special races before and motivated me. The race was going to be in the fall, in Saxony, so I thought it would do me good to get out of Berlin for a bit and do something new.

My first time

This was my first trail run, although I do have experience in other types of races. I did the Berlin Marathon in September and I just won the draw to take part in the London Marathon in April. I really enjoy running, but I usually like to run at my own pace even if I’m running with other people, so I always feel a bit of pressure running in a group. You tend to think you’re not as good as everyone else.  Wrong! There were 6 of us in the team and it was a very inclusive race, we all kept the same pace without leaving anyone behind and there were some great views. One teammate, Jacky, acted as a bit of a leader as she was the one who organized the ride, found the route and planned the day. She had more experience in this type of race and was supporting all of us so that we didn’t fall behind.

The run

The total run was about 15 kilometers. You’re running in the middle of the countryside and, as you go, you can hear and feel nature all around you. The terrain was rocky at some points, we reached a hilly section and one of the areas was very steep, practically vertical! At that point I thought  oh my god! Why did I get myself into this? We didn’t have to climb and were able to go around the edges, which had ledges to grab onto. It took us a while to get to the top but once there, you can see the views and feel proud to have made it as a team. We took advantage of the opportunity and had some snacks we’d brought with us. Then we went down and did 5 or 6 kilometers flat.  It was great!

Supplements and water

It was warmer than we had estimated, about 20 degrees, so I didn’t have to dress too warmly: cycling shorts, a T-shirt, special running socks and my usual running shoes. I also brought a change of clothes for after the race. Since we went by car, I didn’t need to take a backpack. I took some energy gels left over from the Berlin Marathon. What we definitely didn’t bring was enough water. The run may take longer than planned so you’re going to need water, and you’re in the middle of nowhere so there’s nowhere to buy it!

The first but not the last

The day after the race, I was very happy. It was great to get out of the city and do something different.

I would 100% repeat the experience. I don’t have anything scheduled yet but I plan to include this type of run in all my trips. Plus I have my running club so I don’t have to convince anyone to join, I can do it with them. I think it’s great to make the most of a Sunday like this, instead of spending the whole day cooped up at home watching Netflix.

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