Trail running is a wonderful sport. It introduces you to new places, helps you escape the real world and offers the chance to be at one with nature. Glamorous as we just made that sound, it also comes with its challenges. This is the dirty truth about trail running that you only uncover through experience. Luckily for you, we are here to share our top tips.

Disclaimer: Posts may contain affiliate links. We earn commissions if you shop through the links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We also promote other products that we have tried and tested via other affiliate programmes. 

1. Gents, the Nipples Bleed and it’s Not Pretty

If you are wearing a t-shirt or vest, chances are after running for about 20 miles, give or take, you are going to experience nipple chaffing. Top tip… wear Bodyglide! Vaseline is also good but we prefer Bodyglide as it makes less of a mess.

2. The Ladies Need the Bodyglide too

For those of you that wear shorts and have thighs that touch, the struggle is real. We have the scars to prove it. Chafing is worse when it’s raining or freezing old or when you are sweating profusely. Be sure to apply liberally between your thighs. Another area it’s going to get you is under your bra straps or where your hydration vest rubs. Choose a hydration vest with wide straps and that fits you properly. Also, wear a t-shirt that sits under the straps.

3. Get Used to Nature Wees!

Ladies, having loose fitting shorts is our top tip here. Being able to pull them to one side to just go when the need grabs you is an impressive skill worth learning. For those of you that wear leggings, learn how to cop and hold a squat. It will serve you well. You aren’t going to manage to hold on for 50 to 100 miles so get used to the idea of nature wees!

4. Do Trail Runners S**t in the Woods?

Never mind the bears, when you got to go, you’ve got to go. Now, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to having some experience of this. After training for a year for our first 50 miler, the nerves got the better of one of us on the day and it was at 3 miles in when the words “I need to find a wooded area” first were uttered. Not one for wiping with leaves, our top tip here is; always take tissues with you! Those little packets of Peppa Pig tissues that you can pick up in Boots or the supermarket fit nicely in a running belt or a pocket of your running back pack, just saying!

Also, be very careful what you eat when running. Copious amounts of gels are only going to end up causing you some tummy issue eventually. Practise what you eat on your training runs and don’t try new foods during the race.

5. Your Feet will Always be Dirty

Ladies, if you are an ultrarunner, you can forget open-toed sandals and glamorous pedicures. The chances are, even if you do manage to hang on to your toenails, trail running is not good for pretty feet. We have yet to find a pair of shoes or socks that stops the mud getting into every single crack or crevice and under the toenails. We can scrub for ages in the shower with all manner of exfoliating gloves and pumice stones. The truth about trail running in this instance is that is stubborn and you are going to need something pretty aggressive to remove it. Baby oil/Vaseline are good for applying to the legs and feet prior to the run – it certainly makes it easier to wash off.

6. Stinging Nettles Hurt all Year Round

If you were under the impression that stinging nettles were particularly fierce at certain times of the year then you are wrong. Experience has taught us that those feisty little weeds are indiscriminate and love to leave a reminder whether its spring, summer, autumn or winter. There is nothing quite like lying in bed the night after a long run the constant reminder of the day’s activity. If it helps, you do get used to it after a while!

7. Brambles Also Hurt

As the runner that is always following behind my training partner I have more experience than most of this. It doesn’t matter how well intentioned they are, or how careful you are, if they run through ahead of you, that bramble is going to ping back at you faster than you are expecting. Having recently seen a runner on one of these Facebook trail groups wearing ski goggles, I have some understanding of why!

8. You Are Almost NEVER Nearly There

This last truth about trail running is a particular bug bear of mine. Ever ran with that encouraging running partner that says ‘almost there’? It’s a lie! A complete and utter fabrication to trick you into believing you are almost at the top of that vile hill when you are in fact only half way up! Don’t fall for it! It’s like the well-meaning race supporter that tells you, you’ve almost finished – LIES! Just know this – it ain’t over until it’s over!

Got any top tips of you own to share? We’d love to hear them. Drop them in the comments below. The funnier the better!