5 Differences Between Road Racing and Trail Racing

Are you ready to hit the trails? If you’ve answered yes, here are five  differences between road races and trail races you should think about before becoming a trail addict.


The Aid Stations

The number one thing that I hear beginning trail runners say is, “I wish there were more aid stations!” So, take note now. Because parts of a trail race course can be inaccessible to vehicles, you’ll want to stock up on fuel and supplies. Stop at a local running store and pick up a hydration pack. The packs should come with a spot for your water bottle or a bladder for longer distances as well as plenty of pockets. You’ll want to try it on to see if the fit is right as well. A pack that doesn’t tighten correctly or fit well can cause the bag contents to shift and bounce. In addition, if your water bottle isn’t sealed, it could leak while running.


The Footwork

In road racing, your strides are going to be longer. When you hit the trails, you will have to shorten your strides and pick up your feet to avoid hitting rocks, roots or other obstacles on the trail. Also, a shorter stride will help you on trails because it will keep you upright and shorten the distance you have to fall should you trip.


The Gear

Once you arrive at the store to grab your hydration pack, don’t worry about picking up the most expensive clothing you can find. Spend that money on a nice pair of trail shoes. With trails comes nature, and with nature comes mud, water, branches and all types of fun surprises. So, wearing old running gear will work just fine, and getting the right shoes will help you with traction.


The Challenge

Trail running should be calculated and enjoyable. Your training should include lots of hill repeats and trail runs at least a couple times a week. If you don’t like hills now but want to run trails, you need to get used to them. Trail running is slower, but this is the fun part. Rather than waking up at 5:30 a.m. to rush to the start of a big city marathon with 15,000 – 20,000 other runners and watching their sweaty faces among the skyscrapers for the next 26 miles, you can enjoy the serenity and challenge. Also, don’t forget to take photos!


The Participants

Trail races take place on just that- trails in national, state or local parks. Limited funds and parking space will affect the number of participants in these events. So, if you’re a fan of running alone or you don’t like the big crowds, trail running is for you. The best part about the trail running community is its size. Because races are smaller (often 100-200 runners), the more you participate in, the more you’ll notice the same runners making appearances. Pretty soon, you too will become a trail addict!

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