How to Transition from Road Running to Trail Running?

There are several things to keep in mind when transitioning from road running to trail running. Running Coach Jimmy Dean Freeman shares his thoughts. From discovering local trails, to pacing, hiking and more. This is the first of several videos in our "Trail Running Basics" series.

Trail Running Basics

I'm here to talk to you about the trails. It's one of my favorite places to be. A lot of you may be running a lot of roads and you may be wondering how to transition to trail running. The first thing you may want to do is look online, find some local trail running groups, running stores, or even talk to some of your friends who are more experience in running trails than you.

trail running with friends

You are going to get out on the trails and one of the first things you are going to do is try to let go of your pace and mileage goals. When you are on the road, it is easy to get caught up on pace per mile. A 6 mile run on road might not take you very long, while on trails this might take you 50% longer. 

power hiking trails

It is common when you get on the trails to hike a little bit, it is not a continuous run the entire time. You want to start letting go of pace per mile and focus more on your effort and your overall time on feet. 

trail running fundamentals

Some of the things you are going to experience on the trails are scenery, dirt and animals. It's a lot more peaceful place to be and it's a hack of a lot more beautiful. 

You will realize how beautiful it can be and it's the run you will look forward to every time. 

This week enter for a chance to win a $75 PATH projects gift card. To enter, let us know: "what advice would you give to runners looking to start out with or improve their Trail Running?" 1 winner will be picked at random by 4/29/19.

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  • Thanks for all of the advice in the article and thanks also to the readers who have provided advice in the comments. I’m new to trail running and have tried Griffith Park a few times. I also listen to the TRN podcast where the hosts advise separate liners and shorts. Why is that? I have (and love) the Tahoe baseliner and the 5" inseam Sykes shorts but I also have lined shorts from Nike, Adidas, Brooks that I prefer for road running especially on hot days. Will these shorts not work well on longer trail runs this summer in the Los Angeles area? Thanks to all who can share some experience and advice.

    deron matsuoka
  • Start with updated equipment, separate base liner is a must. Enjoy and let the run or walk become a passion.

    John Gish
  • Bring water, leave your headphones at home, breathe deeply and pray for no snakes!

  • If you are new to the trails I would say turn off your watch (or at least the alerts & pace info) so you can go out and just enjoy the experience. You’ll fall in love with running all over again if you keep it simple!

    Dave M
  • Keep track of your time on feet, not miles or pace; bring snacks; listen to the different sounds; eat snacks; play in the dirt; eat more snacks; look at the views; eat…

    Colin Chapell

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