Transition from road to trail running!

trail running, trail running gear, the north face

Making the transition from road to trail running can often be tricky but Autumn is the perfect time to try. A lengthy run through the trees on a brisk Autumn morning is one of our favourite ways to start the day so we chatted to Lisa Tamati, The North Face athlete and ultra runner to get all the down low on trail running.

Lisa’s run more than 60,000km to date, having traversed on foot almost every major desert in the world, run the length of New Zealand in 38 days (that’s 2250km in total, averaging over 50km a day!) and is one of the top female ultra-athletes in the world. Safe to say her running resume reads like a Lonely Planet guide to, well, the planet!

“The beauty of trail running lies in the fact that you are away from traffic and towns and out in nature enjoying all she has to offer, it’s a chance for our often stressed out souls to find regeneration time, sucking in the beauty, the smells, the changes in terrain, the animals and the birds. I find a good trail run far more beneficial in reducing my stress levels than a run on the roads,” says Lisa.

The differences between road and trail running

As you can probably guess, there are are tons of differences between running on the road and running on a trail, the main difference being trail running requires more eye/body coordination given the steep, rocky terrain you might find yourself on.

“With roots, rocks and mud to contend with, even snow and extremely adverse weather conditions, these all make trail running a much more adventurous pursuit than pounding out kilometres on the road,” Lisa says.

This means it can often be harder to find a rhythm on trails as it’s more stop/start in nature, but that’s why we love it! It’s a great addition to your workout routine to give your body a challenge and seriously step it up every time you train. What’s more? There is far less impact on your musculoskeletal system on trains than on road surfaces which can mean you’ll recover faster and can run for longer!

Lisa’s top tips on how to train for trail running

  • Include more strength and balance exercises in your training regime, especially focusing on feet, ankle and knee strengthening.
  • Make sure your running technique is correct because it’s essential you learn to tread lightly on the balls of your feet so you can react quickly.
  • Try to maintain a consistent effort on hills and walk when it’s more efficient to do. Otherwise, you’ll end up in the anaerobic zone very quickly and unnecessarily, without going much faster.
  • Use your arms more and lift your feet higher off the ground to avoid obstacles.
  • Be vigilant and keep safe! When running on a trail, you must concentrate on each step in case you miss an obstacle and trip or fall. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

“Work your way up to the difficult stuff when transitioning and give your body time to adapt. Take your watch off and concentrate more on enjoying the journey than calculating average kilometre times. Ascent in metres is perhaps a more relevant measurement when considered alongside the difficulty of the terrain.”

The North Face 100

The North Face 100 is an annual 100km ultra-marathon trail running event located in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park of Australia. Since it’s launch in 2008, it’s grown to be one of the most talked about endurance events of it’s kind, making it one of the twelve prestigious races of the Ultra-Trail World Tour. This year, over 2000 participants from 35 countries will partake in this challenge, from ages 18-76, with over 45% of the participants in the 100km race competing in the course for the first time! If that doesn’t inspire you to start your transition into trail running, we don’t know what will!

trail running, trail running gear, the north face
Shop → The North Face Ultra TR II, $190

Prepare to smash personal records in this shoe! Providing all the traction you need in a running shoe and a featherlight ripstop upper for a glove-like fit, this shoe is the ultimate in trail-running sneakers!

trail running, trail running gear, the north face
Shop → Ultraceuticals SunActive SPF50+ Mineral Face & Body Lotion, $59

50+ and four hour water (and sweat!) resistant providing ultimate protection for the duration of your run.

trail running, trail running gear, the north face
Shop → Salomon S-Lab ADV Skin 3 12 Set, aprox $200

Stylish, lightweight and the perfect companion for a long trail run, this form-fitting pack will provide all your hydration needs! It has the capacity for front flasks (included when you purchase it) and an additional bladder in the back as well as zipped pockets for anything else you need along the way.

trail running, trail running gear, the north face
Shop → Adidas Terrex Swift Soft Shell Hoodie, approx $175

A breathable jacket that offers protection from the elements? Yes please! It’s also equipped with a single-hand-adjustable hood so you won’t have to break your stride to stay dry.

trail running, trail running gear, the north face
Shop → Clif Energy Bar

The perfect on-the-go snack made from wholesome ingredients to give you all the energy you need.



Image credit: iStock
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Emilie is a tea and travel enthusiast with a love for health and fitness. Emilie loves writing and endeavours to combine this with passion and knowledge of all aspects of wellbeing. An avid gym-goer, Emilie is in her element when she’s sweating it out during a high-intensity workout. As well as this, she loves walking by Australia's beautiful coast-line and has resolved to pracice more Yoga. She loves anything fashion related but feels most comfortable when she’s decked out from head to toe in active wear and has a sneaker collection like no other! Emilie is a self-proclaimed food lover and fuels her body with fresh, nourishing fare.