How to Run a Trail Race

Ok runners, congrats on signing up for that trail race!  It’s so exciting and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

But first, lets get some of the ground, er, trail rules out of the way first.

Own Your Speed

If you are fast line up towards the front.  Passing on trails is kind of tricky so the farther to the front the less passing you have to do.  And if you are going to be nice and slow (no judgement) then line up at the back.  It makes for a more pleasant start all around.

Singular Sensation

A single track trail means there’s room for one person at a time.  Meaning you.  And if there’s people coming in the opposite direction one of you has to step aside and if people are passing from behind they will have to zig a little while you zag so they can have safe passage.  (See how important #1 above is?).

Most importantly is that if you’re on a SINGLE track trail you should not, circle with a slash through it, no be running next to your gal pal, chatting.  It’s a) unsafe and b) annoying to those trying to pass.

Personal Space

Is there drafting in trail runs?  I don’t think so.  But apparently the gal behind me at my trail race thought differently yesterday.  Breathing heavy on my left shoulder, stomping heavy trail shoes right behind.  I hugged the right side of the trail hoping she’d pass.  But she never did.  She’d give me some space and then again run up my baggy Brooks shorts.  Don’t be her.

If you are going to pass, pass.  Speed up to pass, say “on your left” and pass.  But don’t pass just to park yourself 2 steps in front of the other person.  Or else you play the chase game all day.  Pass and go about 10 feet before slowing down.  And if you can’t pass, back off.

Tuning Out

My personal opinion is that race organizers should ban headphones on trail runs.  But if you have to have your music, podcast, Audible book then fine but please keep an ear open.  You really need to hear if someone is trying to pass on your left.  Or if wild animals are coming up to eat you.

Trails are a blast and I think everyone should take advantage of what nature has to offer.  Just remember these simple tips and you’ll not only have fun but be a great trail racer.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂




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