It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of starting something new. However, once the honeymoon period passes, that early enthusiasm can fast become lethargy.

Of course, nothing worth doing comes easy. But when it comes to pursuits like trail running, there are simple steps all beginners can take to prevent their latest hobby becoming little more than an ill-fated pipedream.

Here we explore 3 easily avoidable rookie errors, with advice from experienced trail runners with the scars to prove it…

  1. Worrying about time

One common mistake road runners make when switching to trails is comparing their road running times (time per mile) to trail running times”, says Lisa Jhung, author of Trailhead.

It’s true. You’re likely facing hills, boggy terrain and unpredictable conditions — all of which bring new challenges to your running. Going off-road means a different experience every time. So comparing your trail time to your performance on slick, flat tarmac is pretty much meaningless.

Lisa continues, “Running for a certain amount of time instead of a certain amount of miles can reap the same gains on the trail”. It may take you a lot longer to run a mile, but that doesn’t mean you’re giving your body less of a workout.

  1. Expecting too much, too soon

Trail RunnersDon’t throw yourself in at the deep end before you learn to swim. It’s easy to expect greatness to happen overnight. But reality is, there’s only really one route to progression on the trail: patience and consistency.

“Take the time to progress and learn to run in nature. If you’re serious about racing, start by training for shorter distance events”, says ultra runner Cecile Bertin. “Little by little the trail runner gets fitter, faster and stronger. And never forget that it’s always nature that wins at the end. Respect and accept it.”

If you push yourself too far out of your comfort zone, too soon, you’ll struggle to last the distance and deter yourself from sticking with it long-term.

  1. Not actually enjoying it

Truth of the matter is, if you’re making the first two mistakes, this one will follow.

It seems obvious. But ultimately it’s down to you to find a way that makes running enjoyable for you. Get back to basics. Focus on keeping a moderate pace, keep your eyes off your watch (or leave it at home if you must) and remember to take in your surroundings.

“Don’t forget to reward yourself by taking in the beauty of your environment”, says Richard Askwith, Author of Running Free: A Runner’s Journey Back to Nature. “It may feel a little “unprofessional”, compared with focusing on your watch, your cadence or your position in the race. But a nice deep gulp of nature can make the whole thing worthwhile.”

So, keep it simple and find your vibe.

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Trail Runners