Ever wondered what the most popular Googled trail running questions are? Well, we thought we would share a few with you and, if you were wondering what the answers to these questions are yourself, we will also share our answers.

How many calories does running burn?

If like us you run for cake then you probably want to know how many calories you are burning off. The good news is that ten miles off road, burns more calories than road running but how is this possible when it’s the same distance?

Well, the amount of calories you burn relates more to the amount of time you are exercising rather than how much distance you cover. Let’s say you run a ten minute mile on the road – you will roughly burn 100 calories – if that’s a 12 minute mile off road it’s going to be closer to 120. Now, remember this is not an exact science – everyone is different and this will depend on weight, metabolism, gender etc. As a rough guide though, you will burn around 500-600 calories an hour. Great news if you are an ultra-runner, right?

Will running help me lose weight?

The simple fact is that exercise can help you lose weight but only if you are burning more calories than you are taking in. Just because you are running doesn’t mean all of a sudden you can eat what you like. I have run several marathons and long distances where I have lost no weight because I am constantly hungry and eat too much.

If a ten mile run burns approx. 800-1000 calories, it doesn’t mean you can replace this with the same amount of calories in what you eat. If you want to lose weight, you should do it through a carefully controlled plan of exercise and diet ensuring that you are getting enough food to convert to energy but not too much to counteract the exercise you are doing.

What running shoes are best?

Right up there as one of the top Googled trail running questions. Again, there is no hard and fast answer to this as we are all different. We have different shaped feet, different widths, differing arches and so on. Some of overpronate, some of us don’t, some of us run rocky trails, other run grassy ones. The answer to this questions depends on a number of factors:

  • The terrain you will be running on
  • The conditions – if it is wet you might consider waterproof trail shoes
  • What feels comfortable for you
  • How much distance you are going to cover
  • If you are racing or plodding

If you are new to trail running and just going to cover 5-10 miles, you may want to find yourself a fairly good all-rounder which is good for most things. There are many brands out there that do a great all-rounder – the Hoka Speedgoat, Nike Pegasus Trail, Salomon Speedcross 5… the list goes on. If you are going to be an avid trial runner then, like us, you will end up with a pair for distance, a pair for racing, a waterproof pair, a pair for mud etc. At last count I had a pair of Hokas, Inov-8 Mudclaw and Inov-8 Roclite on rotation. When you find a pair you like, buy a couple. I often end up struggling to find Roclites in my size when I wear through a pair that have covered eleventy billion miles.

nike pegasus trail shoe

How often should I run?

This differs for everyone. I struggle to run more than 5 times a week – I just can’t do however, I have friends that can go out and run every day, sometimes double-daying. How often you run will depend on your body’s ability to cope with the miles, how much spare time you have, what you are training for etc.

The one piece of advice we will give you is to take rest days – these are the days when the magic happens – when your body rests and recovers. Yesterday, I ran 20 miles. I am not a huge fan of the recovery run. Instead, I will take my dogs out for a brisk walk to get the blood pumping and then I will run again tomorrow. Today, my legs and my body is tired – feeling dehydrated. Listen to your body and don’t over do it. This is when injury and illness can kick in.

If you are training for a specific event, get yourself a good plan and stick to it. If you have 4 runs a week in there then follow it and take the planned rest days. If you are feeling too tired or struggling to fit a run in, don’t be afraid to move things around and be a bit flexible but don’t be tempted to add in the odd ten miler here and there, just because you feel you aren’t doing enough. If you are strong enough to run every day then all power to you but remember to put in the rest days, or at least to pull back the mileage and slow it down on these days.

Can I run with sore legs?

Now, there are tired legs, then there are sore legs. Tired legs because you have raced or had a hard run the day before is the norm however, be careful. Gentle aerobic running is the best plan of attack, if you do feel you have to run on tired legs. Take it easy and if you feel anything other than gentle DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) then stop.

If you find that it is a pain that is specific to a certain area that is lingering, this signals an injury rather than DOMs and you should pay attention to it. Ice, rest, elevate and take care of the injury. If necessary, seek the advice of an expert but don’t just carry on blindly running.

Is running bad for your knees?

Funnily enough, this was a discussion that was raised the other day between our head coach, myself and a non-runner who said he couldn’t run because it was bad for his knees. There are many studies in fact, that have shown that regular running can strengthen joints and protect against developing osteoarthritis later in life.

The fear of getting bad knees shouldn’t stop you from running however, if you already suffer with knee issues, this may prevent you running longer distances. Running off road can often be less traumatic on the joints. You aren’t constantly pounding the tarmac using the same repetitive motion as you are regularly changing your running profile to climb hills, run downhill, cross fields etc.

If you are a heavier runner, mixing in time on an elliptical machine is a great place to begin if you’re concerned about your knee issues. Check out this guide on the best elliptical machines to help you on your journey.

Warming up before running with some active drills (not static stretches) can help you avoid injury. Ensure that you loosen up the joints and start off slow so as not to cause too much stress on the body before you are properly warmed up.

How to start running

The brilliant thing about running is that you can just go out the door and do it. OK, so you need a pair of running shoes, and the right kit to run in but you don’t have to travel too far to find great routes. As long as you have shoes and running kit, you are all set. Of course, you might want to start investing in more kit – extra kit, more shoes, a fancy Garmin watch to record your time, distance etc. but you don’t have to.

Just find beautiful routes to run and enjoy it. You may want to consider joining a local running club. A quick shout out on Facebook should help you to discover your nearest club and in our experience, they are friendly faces of all abilities that have several groups that you can run with. Trust us when we say that you will meet lifelong friends too.

How to get faster at running?

Like anything, the more you practise something, the better you become at it. When you first start running, the more you run the further you will be able to go and the quicker you will become. There is a natural progression with running that makes you go faster and further the more you do it. There are additional things you can do if you want to get faster. Speed sessions are one.

We have a section dedicated to getting faster at running hills but there are many sessions on line for road running, hill running and specific distances and types of running. The more you run, the harder you train and the more specific your training is, the faster runner you will become.

Will I get injured running off road?

I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard people saying they won’t run off road because they will get injured. There are of course, always more risks when running on uneven ground, rocky paths, grassy fields, climbing over gates and stiles, running over wet rocks, descending really fast etc. You may roll an ankle, you may even fall over and hurt something but you won’t necessarily get injured from running of road.

What you will find is that over time, you will develop stronger muscles that you don’t always use when road running. Those ankle muscles will be deal with much more rolling!

Does running get easier?

You can ask many a runner this and they will probably all say the same in that it is all relative, after their initial reaction of “no”. A seasoned marathon runner will be able to go out and run ‘easy’ miles without breaking much of a sweat and being out of breath. It’s all about the effort you put into each run. A typical runner’s training diary may consist of a long, slow run, a middle distance tempo run, short training reps or hill reps and recovery runs. Trust me, we all prefer those easy recovery miles any day of the week. Anything at chatty pace is generally considered an easier run.

For those that are new to running, any run can seem hard but as you get better, and more experience, able to run further and quicker, you will be able to adjust your effort levels and some runs will feel easier than others. When you first start out, a mile seems like a very long way and you may find yourself walk running. Then you will progress to 5k and find that you can run this without walking and it all feels good. So yes, it does get easier but it is all about perceived effort.

These are just some of the popular Googled trail running questions, you probably have more. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.