How to Trail Run

Trail running is something I’ve been wanting to take up and do more of. For the last several years, I’ve lived a thirty to forty-five minute drive to the good trails in my nook of Colorado. It was a lot of effort that took way too much time; get up super early, dress, eat, drive forever, get at least an hour run in, drive home. That’s half the morning gone! I should have tried harder.

But now that I’m moving to a rural area of the mountains and will be doing all my training runs in my new neighborhood of hilly (understatement) dirt roads and U.S. Forest Service trails, I knew I needed to learn how run safely in the high country. It just so happened that my favorite local running store/brew pub (yes, you read that right), Shoes & Brews, was hosting a trail running clinic with Salomon Running. PERFECT. It was providence for sure!

My new neighbor, Mt. Meeker the Fourteener!

I’m so glad I went. It was helpful and informative, and it took some of the fear out of trail running for me. Here are some of the things I learned. Thanks, Salomon!

  1. Stay Upright Leaning forward constricts your airflow, so keep your torso upright and your head up despite the urge to lean into the hill.
  2. Stay on Your Toes Forget the heel strike. Staying on your toes makes you more agile through the rocks and other trail obstacles.
  3. Run on the Rocks If the trail is dry, go for solid surfaces over loose gravel when possible
  4. Run In The Water Don’t be afraid to run in the rivulets because there’s more loose sediment in wet conditions for your shoes to grip. In wet conditions, rocks can be slippery.
  5. Look Ahead Look 2-4 steps ahead of you to see where to step safely. Your brain can remember up to about 4 steps so stay safe by staying focused of your footfalls.
  6. Hip to Nip Move your arms like you normally would making sure they arc from your hip to your nip.
  7. Power Hike I didn’t know what this was until the clinic. It’s hard to explain, so go check out this great explanation from The Long Run
  8. Flail Like a Fool Flailing arms downhill is totally acceptable. No one will judge you for keeping your balance and not falling!
  9. Slow it Down Walking during trail running is a-okay! Even the pro who was with us, Courtney Dauwalter (who just broke a record for running 155 miles on a track in 24 hours) said so! It’s okay, really!
  10. What Goes Up On the downhill, lean forward a little to let gravity help you, but no so much you fall forward easily.
  11. Baby Steps Take smaller steps if you feel like you’re going too fast

Here’s Ester from Salomon with more tips


The trail we did was not for beginners, but it was a fun time and I met another Skirt Sports Ambassador, Becky! Making new friends is always fun, too.

Skirt Sisters!

The group at the top

It’s safe to say that I’m hooked. I’ve been posting gorgeous shots of my recent trail escapades on our Instagram all week. I cannot wait to get out there again this weekend and run where I play!


Do you run trails? Where do you run? What’s your biggest piece of advice for beginners? Share it all with me, I’m in desperate need of wisdom!

2 thoughts on “How to Trail Run

  1. What great tips! I wish I had read this before I did the Beat the Blerch run a couple of years back because my goodness, what a mess that was! Anyway, I tend to shy away from trail running because I’m afraid of getting hurt and also because I don’t have trail running shoes. Did they say – is it imperative to have specific shoes?

    • Yes, shoes are important. I think it sort of depends on what kind of trails you’re running. Where I am there are lots of big rocks and pebble gravel, so you want extra grippy soles and lots of traction. The shoes we wore for the clinic were a cross over shoe that can go from road to track to trail, and when I stepped on rocks I certainly noticed the grippiness of the soles. That said, you do need a shoe with more tread, stickier soles, and good ankle support, too, no matter the type of trail. I can’t for the life of me remember the shoe we were wearing and I couldn’t find it on their website, but it was a minimalist shoe at the 120.00 price point and was comfy, with a drop of 8. For Shenandoah, though, I bet you could get away with your current shoe and be just fine. I’ve worn my road shoes on trails and it’s fine. Not as grippy as it could be, but it’s fine. But if you planned on running a lot of trails in the future, it might be smart to invest in trail shoes or more of a cross-over shoe.

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