Everything you need to know about trail running

Georgia Tindley running on a trail

Top tips from a Merrell athlete

Have you thought about trail running but not sure where to start?

The nation’s forests are the perfect place to go for a run. From routes ranging from 1km to 10km, our way-marked running trails have been designed with both beginners and seasoned runners in mind.

Running outdoors is also better at making your body work harder and gives you a lot more benefits than road running or treadmill running at the gym. Plus, it's a much nicer view than the back wall of the gym!

But don’t take our word for it! Hear from a pro trail runner to get all the information you need about trail running.

Top tips to get started from Merrell athlete Georgia Tindley

Georgia Tindley is a Merrell athlete on their Trail Running Team, as well as a Great Britain mountain, trail and sky runner.

We asked Georgia to share her top tips for anyone who wants to give it a go!

What is trail running?

“Trail running can be as simple as going for a run in nature. It works the legs, but also the upper body, and requires concentration and attention. But you don't need to be high in the mountains to go trail running!”

How do I start trail running?

“Look for waymarked running trails in your local forest or green space – they are the perfect starting point for anyone new to trail running. You won’t need anything special when you get started with trail running, just a pair of trainers with a good amount of grip and cushioning. Maybe take a friend with you to boost your confidence?”

Georgia Tindley running on a trail
Georgia Tindley running on a trail

How to transition from road running to trail running

“Trail running requires a more agile style of running. The change in surface means your body needs to adapt to different angles and gaits to move efficiently.”

Why not start on an easy 1km trail at one of our sites to see how it feels? You can find all our running routes on our running page

How do I find trail running routes?

“Just have fun exploring. If you see a trail you like, go for it! Maybe it will lead you down a dead end but maybe it will take you somewhere beautiful. Have a map or your phone with you so you don’t get lost!”

Our waymarked running trails are there to keep you on track during your trail run. Find your nearest running route and get exploring!  

What is the terrain on trail running routes?

“Trail running can take you anywhere so you might encounter a wide variety of terrain! Sand, deep mud, hard packed gravel, grass, moss, rocks, or even scree if you’re in a mountainous area.”

Forestry England’s running trails are a combination of compacted gravel, soft forest floor or hard stone paths. Check to see what terrain your local forest has on our running page

Does trail running build muscle?

“Hitting the trail, even a smooth gravel, dirt or woodchip path, works your muscles, tendons and ligaments differently than running on the road or treadmill. Running trails that head uphill or down can strengthen your quads, glutes, calves, and core.”

Georgia Tindley running on a trail
Georgia Tindley running on a trail

Can running in natural surroundings have a positive impact on your mental health?

“Yes, evidence shows that both being in nature and physical exercise are good for your mental health. With trail running you get the effect of both of these factors!”

I enjoy running with friends, does trail running let me do this?

“Yes, one of the best things about trail running is the community. Races are very sociable events, but there are also lots of running clubs that run together. They organise structured training sessions and group runs. The more you run, the more people you’ll meet and the more training buddies you’ll find!”

What 3 things will I get from trail running?

  • The confidence and freedom to explore
  • Feeling stronger and healthier in yourself
  • Meet a great group of people!

Feeling inspired to give trail running a go? Why not set yourself a goal to work towards by signing up to your nearest Forest Runner event and start training for a 5k or 10k!

Keep exploring...

A male runner in a white vest and a female runner in an orange vest run towards the camera along a forest road

Our new way-marked network of running trails from 1k to 10k have been designed for beginners and seasoned runners.

Search for waymarked running trails below, or run on any of our wa...

woman laughing looking up in a forest

Spending time amongst the trees really noticing nature is scientifically proven to boost our mental and physical health.  Follow the trail to take a mindful walk through the forest...