I asked Donnie Campbell, one of Scotland’s top running coaches and a Salomon sponsored Ultra Trail and Sky athlete, to tell me about the many benefits of trail running. If you want to find out more about trail running, head to one of a number of free How to Trail Run workshops from Salomon in the Lake District, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and the Peak District.
5 reasons to try trail running
To discover new places
You could run the same route from your home over and over – or you could go in search of new places and explore your local countryside.
Close to many British villages, towns and cities you’ll discover a network of country paths, hill and forest trails and even mountain routes.
It’s mentally uplifting to run in the country and with new things to see and new trails to follow you’ll have little chance of getting bored.
It’s better for your body
Trail running provides a quicker route to fitness because it calls on a larger group of muscles as you adapt to the varying terrain and trickier underfoot conditions.
Balance is what gives you the edge towards the end of a run and trail running is great for this, too.
For injury proofing
Trail running has less repetition compared to road running so you are less likely to get an injury. Running on uniform surfaces such as the pavement makes you more susceptible to injury because your foot will always hit the ground in the same way.
When you run off-road, you hit the ground at different angles with every step, which makes you less prone to the kind of injuries road runners are susceptible to.
Also, the trails absorb more of the impact of each foot-strike than pavements or roads.
Go for quality not quantity
You need to adopt a different mental approach when off-road running. It’s not all about the miles covered and personal bests, but more about the time spent on your feet.
The distance you’re able to cover will be dictated by the terrain, so miles are less important than time. That takes the pressure off your training.
To meet new people
There is a growing popularity for trail running and the chances are you will meet new and like-minded people by taking to the trails.
There are trail running and hill running clubs, too, which means you can join a group of people who are already huge fans of off-roading.
Join a How To Trail Run Workshop
Salomon are hosting a series of How To Trail Run Workshop for those who either love the idea of off-road running but are not sure where to start, or who are already trail runners simply looking to improve their technique and take it to the next level.
The workshops run through October and November in the Lake District, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and the Peak District offer beginner, intermediate and women’s specific options, all led by expert coaches such as Donnie Campbell and Ricky Lightfoot.
Trail runners can enjoy demonstrations and advice on technique; chat about the many benefits of trail running; and test samples of the latest trail kit.
Each location boasts carefully chosen routes, all offering a good varying mix of test-perfect trail terrain in stunning locations.
What kit do I need for trail running?
You can wear the same running clothes that you already own but for comfort you will need a few extras, including trail running shoes. These offer traction on paths, hills and in the inevitable mud.
Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX trail shoes
The grippy soles are excellent in a wide range of conditions. The fit is neat and secure and if you buy the GTX, you’ll get extra waterproofing. There are non-GTX versions. See my review of Salomon Speedcross 4 trail shoes.
Salomon Agile Wind jacket
You are far more likely to “face the weather” when you are trail running, so it’s vital that you have a jacket that is wind resistant. Check tat it is lightweight and breathable, too. The Salomon Agile Wind Jacket for women and Salomon Agile Wind for men are a good choice.
Salomon Bonatti waterproof jacket
Add some waterproofing for wet weather days. You need a lightweight, breathable and waterproof jacket if you are not going to be put off by the rain. I like the Salomon Bonatti jacket.
Salomon Elevate Trail Tights
1000 Mile Trail Socks
Price: £12.99 for a twin pack
The new 1000 Mile Trail Sock is “anatomically designed to give comfort and support during trail runs”. Features include a padded heel that extends to protect the Achilles tendon, as well as padding for the toes and ball of foot.
A Merino wool blend makes the sock soft to help reduce friction on the skin without it being too thick for running, and it boasts superior wicking and dries quickly. See 1000 mile trail running socks