Blog: Trail Running – How To Get Started

There is a unique beauty to be found running along a trail, where you see nothing but trees, dirt, mud, hills, rivers, rocks and the occasional skippy!  It is easy to lose track of time, and the km’s seem to pass very quickly.  There is no need to worry about noisy cars or intersections…trails provide an undeniable escape from a sometimes stressful life!

We are extremely luck in Perth to have access to so many National Parks, where of course trails are abundant.  Not only is trail running good for the soul, it is good for the body.  Mixing up your running terrain and running on a softer surface has been clinically proven to reduce the risk of running overuse injuries.

If you have been thinking about venturing off road, here are some tips to get you started:trail time

  1. Grab some friends!  The best way to run trails when you are starting out is with some friends to share the experience.
  2. Start out with a well marked trail in a Reserve or National Park, with clear signage.
  3. Your road running shoes are fine for beginner/intermediate trails.  As your trail running increases, it is recommended to invest in a pair of trail specific running shoes.
  4. Leave your ego at the road!  Running trails can be exhausting and can take a lot longer to run the same distance as on the road.  Don’t worry if your pace slows down on the trails, mainly focus on finding your trail running rhythm.
  5. Be mindful of your time – if it takes you 30 minutes to run 5k on the road, it will take longer to run the same distance on a trail.
  6. Love the hills!  Wherever there are trails, there will be hills.  Hills are a challenge for any runner, running uphill over a rocky surface can be difficult – the more you challenge yourself the stronger runner you will be.
  7. Shorten your stride when out on the trails.  Keep your feet landing underneath your hips and retain your centre of balance maintaining stability where your feet have a good feel of the ground.
  8. Be safe – carry a mobile phone with you, map your route before hand, carry water, run with friends and tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be finished.

So now you are keen to give trail running a go, here are some great spots which are suited for people running trails for the first time: –

  1. Kings Park – there are many trails in Kings Park which is a great central location for anyone to access.  Take a look at this map here and grab a great view from the Law Walk or Kokoda Trail.
  2. Bold Park – another great central location with plenty of trails and hills to get your heart pumping!  Including the ever popular Zamia Trail, it is impossible to get lost as all trails go in a circle.
  3. Lake Leshenaultia – many people would remember venturing to the Lake for family picnics during our younger years.  The Lake offers an easy 5km loop, which is ideal of beginners wanting to try trails for the first time.  You can end your run with a refreshing swim in the lake!
  4. Carinyah Trail – a 15.7km trail loop south of Perth, another great loop for first time trail runners.
  5. Railway Reserves Heritage Trail – start at Pine Tce, Darlington for an out and back adventure as long as you like!  The reward at the end is finishing at the Darlington Bakery, serving nice coffee and a hot breakfast 🙂
  6. John Forest National Park – For trail runners looking for more challenging terrain.  In JFNP you will find trail favourites such as Eagle Walk, Glen Brook Heritage Trail with plenty of hills and single track detouring past beautiful Hovea and National Park Falls, Jane Brook and Rocky Pool.  If you want to catch the trail running bug, here is where you will certainly be bitten!

So now you have the essential information you need to get off the road, head out onto some trails get dirty and have a go!  We would love to hear about your trail adventure runs, let us know all about it on our Facebook page, including any favourite trail spots you are happy to share.  For assistance with coaching, trail running or building up to your first trail event book you FREE coaches meeting online HERE.

Happy Trail Running!
Andrea Bell
Coaching Consultant – Level 2 AA
Front Runner Sports Coaching