Trail Running – Not Just For The HardCore

Time flies when you are having run!  We have been running and racing and wanted to share more ways to keep your running fun. Trail Running! Last year, we expanded our running repertoire from roads to trails.

Trail running can be intimidating!  Pick up a copy of Trail Runner magazine, or look into some of the trail races out there and you’ll see — many are geared toward the seriously competitive and ultra distance runner. That is not us. 

As most of our followers know, the Running Lushes don’t take ourselves too seriously. We had to select trail races that fit our goals, objectives and abilities.   Luckily we were able to find many trail organizations and races that are open to runners of all levels and capabilities.  Read below to learn more about finding the best trail race or course for you and to get over the fear factor.

Trail race organizations we love (or that don’t scare us)

img_0910-1Sasquatch Racing and Brazen Racing are two trail racing companies in the Bay Area that offer races for all ages and running level.  Both offer multiple distances and lenient finish times. Kids are welcome too so you can make it a family affair! Sasquatch races even include a scavenger hunt to win prizes.  These are both good places to start to ease yourself into your first trail run yet also have more technical and hilly races as well for your next race.

Look at the Course details

When registering for a trail race, always look at the elevation profile and the course description.  There are trails that can be very technical and challenging (single track with rocks, roots and other obstacles, sheer drop off a cliff), and those that are more similar to road racing (fire roads, gravel roads, etc). For your first run, choose a shorter distance than you normally run. As we mentioned in a previous article, trail races are a bit slower and you want to get used to the terrain before conquering a longer distance.

The Weather Factor

Consider the time of year when you are looking at trail races. Muddy, wet and icy conditions may not be the best conditions to run your first trail race.  Losing a shoe in a vortex of mud is NOT fun.  Running a 5k on the road when it is raining is much much different when you get to a trail.

Ashes Ashes, we all fall down

The Running Lushes have been known to fall on trail races (one of us on every race), but we do not let that deter us from registering for more races and you shouldn’t either!  Here is what we have learned: on single track, technical trail courses, concentration is key.  Here is how we approach it:


  1. Consider a shorter distance: With elevation gain and the difficulty of a technical course, a 10k could take almost as long as it takes to run and half marathon road course.
  2. Slow down and keep your knees high:  When your/your legs get fatigued, you are less likely to pick up your feet and it is hard to think clearly. When you start kicking rocks and you start feeling your toes graze roots, slow down and concentrate on keeping your knees high and feet light.
  3. Walk the challenging sections: There is no embarrassment in walking the steep portions both up and down.  Also, the slippery and/or rocky portions can be treacherous.  It is better to walk than to fall and rip your favorite tights. Trust us on this one.
  4. Avoid distractions:  There is a reason race organizers recommend or require participants to avoid wearing earbuds during the race.  This decreases your ability to hear what is going on.  Also, pay attention to runners and bikers coming from ahead and behind.  Most trails races are in parks that are open to the public.  If you’re running and there is foot or bike traffic in front of you or behind you, give yourself space to move to the right to make room for them to pass.
  5. Enjoy the scenic beauty, carefully:  One of the main attractions of trail running is the beautiful scenery.  However, at the same time, you must keep your eyes on the trail in front of you.

If you fall, you may need help to get up and determine if you’re ok to continue.  Do not hesitate to ask for help from those around you.  If you see someone fall, stay with them until the person is stable.  Do not leave an injured runner on the trail by themselves.

Trail running is a great way to try something new. We touched on a few of the scarier aspects (falling) though as long as you are prepared and set expectations, trail running gives you the ability to explore the outdoors and enjoy the beautiful local scenery.  Though many races are geared toward the ultra distances, there are plenty of options for your first race!  Which one will you sign up for?

Muddy Water Cocktail

2 oz white rum
4 oz coke
2 oz orange juice

Pour ingredients into tall glass over ice and stir vigorously (not too much or you will have fizz).  Garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy while you are considering the terrain of your next race.

4 thoughts on “Trail Running – Not Just For The HardCore

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