Featured image courtesy Kelvin Trautman /RedBull Content Pool
So, you have decided to give trail running a shot – great! We’re here to show you how to get on the trails as quickly and safely as possible, and to make sure that you do the most important thing of all – have fun 🙂
Pick a location
Decide where you want to go for your trail run. Don’t be shy to pick a route that has a lot of vertical gain or is very technical, you can walk as much trail as you need to. Even the elites walk up some hills during the heavier runs. Take a look at our routes.
Get a group together or join one
Once you’ve decided on a route, grab some of your friends and make a mission. If you can’t find anyone interested, find a local trail running group and join them. There is a lot of camaraderie in the trail running community, and most of the runners I have met have been friendly and super welcoming. I’d highly recommend waiting to do any solo runs. You have to be very confident in your abilities, know the surroundings, and have loads of experience to do this with any level of safety. Even then, solo running is very dangerous.
Make sure you have decent gear
For a beginner runner, gear is not the most important factor. Before you go spending your hard earned cash on the top of the line shoes, hydration packs and everything else, just get out there with what you have. At a minimum, the shoes you use should have decent grip. If your shoes don’t, then you can pick up a pair of trail shoes for around R600. In the beginning, the shoes you use make the biggest difference to your run’s enjoyment.
For clothing, wear items that you don’t mind getting damaged and dirty. The rough and tumble trail running brings is half the fun, so you don’t want to be worried about getting mud on your top. If the route has thorns or sharp plants (Cape Town is full of these), wear something long. Ladies can don a pair of leggings, and men can either tough it out or cover up.
Gear makes a big difference, especially when you start to do longer runs (think 2 hours+). When you start doing these regularly, definitely invest in some decent shoes (I use Salomon Sense 4 Ultra), running clothing and a hydration pack.
This is incredibly important and must not be underestimated. I have done a few runs where the weather has changed drastically, or I’ve gotten lost and needed some extra fuel. No matter what the weather is like, I always pack for a few conditions. I’ve packed a light warm top when the weather has been a sunny 30 degrees – and needed it. Always make sure you have enough water, try and aim for one liter per hour of running during the run, and bring extra to have after the run. Try and carry some fuel with you, I really like Gu, or dried fruit and nuts. If your energy crashes, these are lifesavers. Seriously, the difference these have made on my long runs is incredible.
Trail running is about freedom. Once you’ve got the above covered, just go out and have fun! Enjoy the spectacular views, the sense of boundlessness, and being in nature. It only gets better 🙂
I’ll leave you with advice from some of the professional trail runners we’ve interviewed. Enjoy the trails!
As trail running requires a strong core, incorporate strength training into your training program. Also handy to have the right gear. Don’t be afraid to walk the uphills. Explore new trails and enjoy every moment on the trails!
Absolutely allow yourself to DREAM BIG – and then GO LIVE IT! The rest will fall in place.
It’s really important to enjoy your running, relax and have fun on the trails. Don’t get too caught up with numbers, running techniques etc. If you are relaxed and having fun you will naturally run better. At least once a month try and find a new trail to run, even if it involves a weekend away. You can make a whole adventure out of it.
Work hard, be prepared to hurt in training and follow your dreams. And remember that it is always too early to give up.
It is an adventure you need to be prepared of anything at anytime, from being a very difficult route, terrible weather conditions, or bad injury that might occur to you. Don’t attempt any trail run especially the long races without the proper training. Always have the compulsory kit and nutrition with you, take extra care and enjoy the spectacular of the mother’s nature, with the overwhelming feeling afterwards!
Passion, purpose and perseverance – these are what I call my 3 P’s. Trail running is a wonderful passion to have and to be able to share with other like-minded trail’ers. Let that passion take you places – pack your trail shoes wherever you travel, explore new routes, push your limits, share the joy. Trail running offers a lifetime of adventures – make them happen!