Breaking down the myths about trail running

Thinking about trail running, but intimidated by the idea of uphill running and downhill dodging? Don’t be. If you can run, you can trail run.

Hell, if you can walk, you can pretty much trail run.

Nothing to be scared of. Photo: Courtesy of Jake Melara

Nothing to be scared of. Photo: Courtesy of Jake Melara

Let’s break down some more of those preconceived notions. Sorry ’bout yo’ excuses.

It’s hard

Let’s get this out of the way: Running itself is hard. Elevating your heart rate and propelling yourself takes energy. Sorry.

And yes, trail running adds obstacles, uneven surfaces and, most likely, more elevation gain than your average city sidewalk. But it also adds distraction, views and softer surfaces.

Plus, the great secret of trail running is that you can walk the uphills. Lots of people, even elite runners, take it down a notch when the trails get steep. I don’t know about you, but speed hiking up a beautiful trail sounds way easier and more fun than chugging uphill through the concrete jungle.

And you’re here for a workout, right? It should at least be a little hard.

It’s dangerous

A photo posted by Jan (@janrennt) on

You know what’s suuuuper dangerous? Being a pedestrian. Especially a fast-moving one with headphones on. Statistically you’re way safer on trails, where a car probably isn’t going to hit you.

RELATED: How to go trail running at night

Yes, trail running comes with the added hazards of rocks you have to dodge and roots that might trip you up. And sure, if you did twist an ankle or take a digger a few miles out on a trail, it might suck to get home, but that’s why you should run with a friend. And toughen up a little bit.

You need special gear

Yes, you could get a hydration pack and grippy trail runners and fluorescent layers and those dorky leg-sleeve things. You totally could. Or you could go running in the same sneaks and T-shirt you always wear.

Your body doesn’t know there are trees around.

Like any kind of run, the longer you go, the more your gear will make a difference, and if you’re out in the woods without potential water stops, you might want water and snacks at some point. But to start, don’t stress the details. Stay tuned for the gear that actually makes a difference.

You need to go somewhere special

Doesn't this look nicer than your neighborhood? Photo: Drew Garaets

Doesn’t this look nicer than your neighborhood? Photo: Courtesy of Drew Garaets

All you need to trail run is a trail. Your local park probably has trails.

No one said you had to start on the hard stuff.

You need to be a psycho to run a race

A photo posted by Dean Karnazes (@ultramarathon) on

The overly venous, skinny humans who win ultra races are probably a little crazy, in that they put in a crap-ton of miles. But anyone who is ultra at their sport is probably a little crazy.

RELATED: Trail races are good for your body and brain

You don’t have to run 100 miles. You, my friend, can casually undertake a trail 5k or half-marathon. There are tons of them cropping up around the country.