What I’ve learned about trail running

Although I’ve been running pretty regularly since the end of 2015 I’m only a recent (somewhat accidental) convert to trail running after venturing out with a group into the Waitakere Ranges.


Since then I’ve continued trail running and I’m currently training towards two events, the first a 10.5k trail run in June and then the “big one” a half marathon trial run in November.

Although most people think running is running is well, running, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned by leaving the road behind me and taking it out onto the trails.

The car ride is worth it for the views!

The great thing about road running, is that you can walk outside your door and quite simply run. Trail running definitely takes more forward planning, you usually need to drive to an area with trails and then it’s a good idea if you know where you are going once on a trail, especially if you plan to run in an area with no cellphone coverage like I often do.


Although I spend the majority of my time scanning the ground up ahead for anything waiting to break my ankle, my all too frequent walk breaks give me a chance to catch my breath whilst taking in the scenery, which are more often than not, breathtaking in their own right!

I used to think I was slow

Out on the trail, I’ve taken slow to an entirely new level! And it’s not even because I stop to take in the views. 😉

At first I thought it was because I’d had a pretty decent gap of not running (due to injury) after completing the Coatesville Half Marathon and as such I was “back at square one” or perhaps I was still babying my knee (or most likely a combination of both), but although I’m still not quite back in the groove of things, I’m back enough to know that I’m just slower on a trail.

Slowly does it

There are hills to contend with, unfamiliar terrain, rocks, roots and the elements (which tend to be much more noticeable when you are exposed on the side of a mountain).

What’s under your feet counts

When it’s dry underfoot I’ve found that my least preferred surface to run on is grass, it’s one of those things that sits there all innocently hiding a myriad of lumps, bumps and holes just waiting for you step awkwardly into. However, if it’s wet underfoot then I’d much prefer to run through grass than along boardwalks. As a heel striker, wet boardwalks are far more intimidating.

Sand for the win

My favorite surfaces to run on are sand or cleared dirt paths and as a bonus both of these surfaces allow you to see any potential hazards easily.

It’s family friendly

While the kidlets will occasionally join me for a walk it’s pretty rare, apparently walking around roads is kind of boring, especially when compared to staying home and playing on the PS3, watching TV or even sitting down exclaiming how bored they are to anyone who will listen.

However both kids will happily join me if I’m going to “the forest” although I’m not sure why I put the forest in inverted commas because well quite frankly it is an actual forest.

Family Fun

I enjoy taking them with me, it allows me the opportunity to explore trails I plan to run (at some stage in the future) at a much slower pace and that’s not because my kids are slower than me, because if it was an actual race they could probably both beat me – but only if it wasn’t very far because neither of them have quite worked out the art of pacing themselves. 😉

Yesterday after work, I stopped at the Peninsular trail on my way home and did my scheduled run. When I walked into the house both kids wanted to know why I’d been to a trail without them but were happy enough with my explanation that it was Mum’s run day so I had to go much further (and faster) than when it’s our jog/walk day – which is what Isabelle calls it when when venture out onto the trail, because “we don’t actually run”.

I love kids honesty ..

Till next time





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