Road to Trail – Making the Transition from Road Running to Trail Running

By Rick Morris

Running is really the same no matter where you do it. But you may need some information on trail running for beginners. It all comes down to putting one foot in front of the other in the quickest and most efficient way possible. While the basics of running are the same, there are some obvious differences between road and trail running that you should be aware of and plan for when you make the transition from road running to trail running. Are you ready to make the jump into trail running? Here are just a few items you may want to pay attention to when you hit the trails.

Check the Tread

You don’t use road tires when you go 4-wheeling. So do you think it’s a good idea to go trail running in road shoes? Trail shoes are constructed with more aggressive treads to give you a better grip on rocky or slippery slopes. They also give you a bit more support to prevent strains and sprains. Invest in a good pair of trail shoes to keep your trail running safe and enjoyable.

Stride Lightly

You should always be running with a light, compact and efficient stride, even when road running. But it is especially important to run with shorter, quicker steps on the trail; particularly on steep ups and downs. You will be more in control and will be running more efficiently and safely.

Be Proactive

Sometimes when running on the road you can go zone out and go somewhere else in your mind. Not a good idea when running on the trail. Trail running presents some hazards such as rocks, drop offs and debris that can come out of nowhere. Be proactive, focused and alert when running on trails. Always try to look about 20 feet ahead so you can prepare for any trail hazards.

Be Prepared

Trail running is great because of the solitude and scenery. But you are also going to be some distance away from shelter or assistance. Be prepared for changes in the weather, injuries or other emergency situations. Run with a runners pack and carry a cell phone, jacket, compact first aid kit, fluids and energy foods. Also be sure to carry identification with any important medical information.


Trail running is a relatively safe activity, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Before you hit the trail tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you plan to be back. They can call in the Calvary if you have problems.