If you are a runner, chances are you have tried trail running, or off-road running as it’s also widely called, at some point. If you haven’t then we strongly advise you give it a go! Many runners start off as road runners, clocking up faster times, chasing PB’s, entering races, and pushing themselves to the limits. From 5k to marathons, over a period of a few years, the more experienced runner can do a lot of pavement pounding. If you are keen to get out on the trails and discover why so many others are taking up this rapidly growing sport, we hope you will find everything you need on our website for starting off-road running.

From the gear you need, staying safe on the trails, getting better at trail running, and training for ultra marathons, as UKA coaches and ultra runners ourselves, we have created this site to share our experience and knowledge.

How We Discovered Off-Road Running

There wasn’t some moment of clarity where we got up and decided to start trail running. We kind of found it accidentally. I know I had done a couple of particularly muddy and not very pleasant off-road races but at some point, I was introduced to the Mendip Hills and that’s where the story began. The beautiful views from Blackdown, the feeling of satisfaction as you reached the top of Cheddar Gorge, the history of Priddy Nine Barrows… gradually we discovered a passion for trail running, uncovering new routes, finding new views, and setting new challenges for ourselves.

black down trig a popular off road running spot

“I Wonder Where That Goes”

You don’t have to know your way around (most of our best runs involve getting either lost or uttering the words “I wonder where that goes”). That’s the fun of it. Finding new places, discovering new views, sharing routes with friends, and running with friends who have the same appreciation. Now we can be found pretty much every Sunday morning running anything between 10-25 miles off-road, usually on terrain that’s not a million miles from home.

We didn’t start out with the most expensive gear – just a pair of trail shoes in place of our road shoes. We didn’t particularly know lots of routes. Using various maps and apps, bit by bit, we familiarised ourselves with the Mendip Hills mostly. We ventured off to run the Welsh Mountains, entered events further south and ran a few ultras for which we spent hours training. Now we’ve probably worn out half a dozen pairs of trail shoes and gone through our fair share of kit but we didn’t start out with everything. We discovered everything we know by trial and error.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Blisters, chaffing, sore feet, sunburn… we’ve experienced it all including nausea and heat exhaustion yet still we carry on. We have learned from our mistakes and now we are more prepared. This enables us to share the benefit of our experience with you. To share the best trail running shoes, the best kit to wear, the best training advice, and anything else that we feel would benefit to enhance your enjoyment of this pastime.

You Don’t Have to Be Fast

We aren’t the fastest runners. Many of our off-road runs are in the region of 10mm – 12mm pace. We stop and take in a view, we take photos, if it’s long distance we walk the hills while eating (one of the many benefits of trail running) but most of all we enjoy it. The mistake that many make, and why some don’t pursue trail running, is the expectation of speed. you won’t be as fast off-road compared to road and when you are starting off-road running, stopping and starting at stiles and gates, and slowing down for muddy or tricky trails may take some getting used to but you soon stop looking at the watch or worrying about times.

Starting Off-Road Running

For those of you who are new to running or who are considering starting off-road running, how do you get into it? How do you take those first steps to your first trail run?

  • Find someone who does it already, join a local running club (there will be trail runners as well as road runners), check out the trails nearby, and download some routes online. All Routes is a great little app for discovering routes near you
  • Buy a pair of trail shoes – that’s easy, we have a whole section of trail gear and advice on choosing trail running shoes to help you decide what you need. Take water if you’re going a long way, a snack is also a good idea
  • Stay safe. Don’t run alone if you don’t know the terrain or it is likely to get dark. Tell a friend where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Make sure you have your phone in your running belt – one: for safety and two: to take pictures. Alternatively, get yourself a running backpack to store your water and your phone
  • ENJOY. Take it all in, relax, enjoy the views, and use it as we do to switch off from the daily grind.

Chances are you will love it and get home planning your next run. Many runners do it for fun, others like to enter off-road races, train for endurance events such as ultra-marathons, and generally push themselves as far as they can. We are here to help you whether you are just getting started, run off-road occasionally, or are a more seasoned athlete who takes trail running rather more seriously.

If you have questions, want to know more about off-road running, or have a story you would like to share, drop us a message and we will endeavour to respond ASAP.