What do you need and how do you get started? We investigate.
If you’ve been gradually upping your kilometres on the road you may have already considered trying out trail running.
Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, professional endurance athlete, social entrepreneur and motivational speaker Samantha Gash says it’s more accessible than we would think at first.
“It is such a broad sport and I think a lot of people think it has to be in mountainous terrain or a desert – incredibly isolating environments – but we actually have trails in so many urbanscape environments as well,” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode So you want to try trail running?
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Gash – who is the first woman to run four 250km ultra marathons in Chile, China, the Sahara and Antarctica – says it’s all about building up to it slowly, in terms of strength and expertise. She also says it’s worth all the training.
“I just love it more than road running, because it brings a whole more sense of adventure and play. I say that trail running is like an adult playground. I think it brings out this light version of who you really are,” she explains.
So – what do you need to get started?
- Proper trail running shoes: “I think the best thing to do that is go into a running specific store and get them to put you on a treadmill and do a bit of biomechanical testing and try you with a whole bunch of shoes that suit your foot. So it’s really unique and specific to you.”
- Training backpack: “They have really advanced over the years. They used to be big and clunky and they were always male dominated…but now they’re nice and hug tight. They look cool.”
The most important thing is the backpack, because it will hold your fuel, phone and trail medical kit; all of which help you to look after yourself out in the wild.
“Trail running is about being self-sufficient and being reliant on yourself to get out of any situations that you might encounter. So having those gear items actually gives you security and safety to play even more,” says Gash.
Her top tips for trails?
If you’re in Melbourne try out the Yarra Trail which runs by the river, and when you’re allowed to go further afield you could visit the Dandenong ranges and the Grampians. For Sydney, Gash recommends the Centennial Park loop, Manly Dam trails and further afield – the Blue Mountains.
It’s important to remember that one of the major inhibitors for women getting out on the trails is getting lost. For this Gash says her and her partner use the running app Strava.
“You can actually plot out your route before you go. You can even put it onto your watch as well, or you can look at it on your phone. So I often use that when I’m running on a new trail just to make sure I’m on the right path,” she says. “You can also put a tracking beacon.”
Gash understands that trail running can be nerve wracking when you’re new, and especially for women being out in the wild on your own, with all the wildlife and no one around.
For this reason, she has started her own company with her best friend Her Trails, to create a community space for women trail runners to discuss, plan and train for the trails of their dreams.
“We’ve had several hundred women take part in our programs and retreats, so it’s been a massive joy for me,” she says.
“Definitely as a coach in 2021 when the landscape has looked quite different, it has reminded me that you can feel connected to people even when you are physically distant from them.”
Find out more about Samantha via her website, here, or Instagram @samanthagash. For more info on Her Trails, click here.