Transition From Tarmac to Trails

Transition from Tarmac to Trails

Posted at 11:00 - 15th January - Sarah Booth

As 2019 rolls in, so do our commitments to get fit! Many of these commitments involve people tying up their trainers and hitting the streets to start running.

However, we are noticing a growing number of people opting to go off-road – to run in nature and embrace routes that are slightly more unruly and unpredictable.   To help those of you choosing to run wild, we’ve put together some top tips on how you can successfully transition from the tarmac to the trails.

Trail running provides a dynamic experience with ever changing terrains!

Trail running provides a dynamic experience with ever changing terrains, so the first thing to be aware of is the difference between that and running on the road. Trail running tends to be harder on your body, so the key message here is to ease in gently! Be aware that doing a 10K on the trails will take longer than your usual road route, so it’s best to start off with time goals rather than distance goals, until you find your rhythm and pace.

As with everything involving the outdoors, equipment is key

As with everything involving the outdoors the right equipment is key, and in the case of trail running that means getting your footwear right. While your normal trainers will do the job on groomed trials or fire roads you will need more support as the terrain becomes increasingly rugged. Trail running shoes are different from road running shoes – they are heavier with more durable treads and the sole is wider and closer to the ground to provide protection and stability on uneven surfaces. There are different models of trail running shoes to chose from ranging from hybrid to minimalist so find your nearest specialised trail running shop and consult the experts!

Once you have your footwear sorted, you might want to think about other useful accessories. Carrying fluids is a great idea, as is a head torch if you are running in the late afternoons/evenings and not forgetting the great British weather, which often means it’s a good idea to roll up a lightweight waterproof.  

Trails don't make the best catwalks for your designer gym wear!

We would also advise leaving any designer gym gear at home as the chances of brushing against brambles, striding through muddy puddles and rubbing up against moss is much higher than when you are urban running. It is also advisable to think about your safety. Plan your route before you head out and tell someone where and when you are going. Depending on how wild you go, an ordinance survey map may be a useful thing to pop into a lightweight rucksack. Remember you may end up in areas where 4G will not be your friend!


Once out on the trails there are a few useful pieces of etiquette to be aware of. Firstly always stop for other trail users for example hikers, horse riders and mountain bikes! Uphill runners should always give way to downhill runners and make sure you are looking 3-4 feet ahead of yourself so that you are aware of any trip hazards. The temptation to admire the views will be great but could also cause you to trip over a tree root and dive face first into a swamp!

Trail running is a brilliant way of convening with nature, of allowing the rhythm of your heart to tune in to the undulations of the trails.

Finally, our most important piece of advice is to just enjoy it. Trail running is a brilliant way of convening with nature, of allowing the rhythm of your heart to tune in to the undulations of the trails. Your surroundings will be challenging yet spectacular so leave your Strava fuelled ego at home, at just enjoy being out there and feeling well and truly alive!

If any of you ladies are starting your trail running journeys, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.