Ten Tips to Go From Road to Trail

Have you thought about dipping your toe into trail running but you just don’t know where to start?


Kim Senechal is back on the Healthy Runner Podcast and she is going to provide you with 10 tips to go from road to trails in this trail running for beginners training!



Kim is an avid trail runner and licensed physiotherapist from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  She has practiced & trained in diverse environments including the west coast British Columbia, the central prairies of Manitoba and near the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, while her racing has taken her all over North America in distances from 10K to 100 miles.  While in Winnipeg MB, Kim was able to combine her love for running and healing where she served as the Director of The Running & Gait Centre and specialized in treating runners of all levels and abilities.  Kim has spent her fair time running on roads but finds her true passion exploring the wild places and spaces that trail running delivers.  She is a proud mother of two teenage boys and is currently working for a non-profit organization.


Listen to the Podcast Episode during your next run!




Watch the LIVE Episode Below! 



10 tips to go from road to trail


1. Keep it fun.  Don’t overthink it. (snow trails, fartlek, variety, explore)  Start out creatively…add in some variety with speed and hills and take pictures along the way.



2. Minimize chances of falling

  • Form: Increase your cadence, take shorter strides, and pick up your feet.
  • Scan ahead, don’t follow too close to the person in front of you and look down the trail ahead.
  •  Stay well fueled and hydrated .  Lazy, sluggish legs lead to fatigue = tripping.
  • Stay humble.  Be careful when pushing your limits.
  • If you do fall, get your hands under your chest and palms down if possible.  Then roll.  Avoid a FOOSH injury.


3. Start Gradually and Slowly  

  • Build mileage gradually on the trail.
  • Move from non-technical to progressively more technical over time.
  • Add hills slowly.  Start with running up and walking down if technical.


4. Use effort rather than pace as a target.  Trails will always feel harder than roads at the same pace.  Use Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and not pace to measure your progress


5. Make peace with power hiking.  Trek is not a 4 letter word.  Use when on steep terrain to maintain target heart rate or to stay safe on technical terrain.  Trek with purpose!


6. Consider helpful gear to improve your experience.

  • Footwear: Wear footwear that is lower to the ground.  If running on sharp or wet rocks, a firmer outsole (rockplate) with good grip is helpful.  If running in wet or muddy conditions, good drainage.
  • Higher ankle or compression socks / gaiters
  • GPS watch (with breadcrumb trail) or map / cell phone
  • Whistle (even in urban areas)
  • Brightly colored clothing during hunting season
  • Emergency blanket, extra snack
  • Small first aid kit for abrasions and cuts.
  • Headlamp – it gets darker earlier in the mountains and on forested trails
  • Small running vest to carry it all!


7. Stay safe.

  • Tell someone where you are going and check in when you return.
  • Know your route.  AllTrails
  • Run with a buddy, don’t leave people behind at major forks. When in doubt, take the path most traveled.
  • Plan for the unexpected.  Sprained ankles, bee stings, etc.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – predators including humans.
  • Plan your escape route – may not be the spot you started from.
  • If using music, only 1 ear bud or Shokz
  • Make noise.


 8. Be prepared for weather/environment: bug spray, pepper spray, extra jacket


9. Pack a snack for after if the trail head is far from home.


10. Relax and dance with the trail!



Connect with Kim Senechal:


Related Episodes & Resources:


Episode 108 

Trail Running Vs Road Running



SPARK Blueprint:  5 Tips to Run Stronger & Healthier



Implement the 6-steps to growing as a runner with our Signature Coaching Program: https://learn.sparkhealthyrunner.com/coaching


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This week’s show brought to you by: 

Tracer2 by Noxgear.  If you’re looking for running gear that will actually help you stay safe while running we’ve got a special offer for you where you can save 35% by using the code HEALTHYRUNNER. Just head to: https://noxgear.com


Click HERE to be directed to the discount page!


Connect with Dr. Duane:

Dr. Duane Scotti, DPT, PhD, OCS is a running physical therapist, run coach, host of the Healthy Runner podcast, and founder of Spark Healthy Runner and has been a leader in the rehab and running community for 20+ years.


Duane initially started running as an adult, wanting to add some cardio to his gym sessions. After having a hip surgery, his doctor advised him to get off the treadmill and run outside. Without having fully recovered, Duane suffered a running-related hamstring tendon injury and many others as a novice runner.


As a coach, he has guided thousands of athletes back to running, finishing their first marathon, crushing a personal best, and even the elusive Boston Marathon qualifying time.


He is truly living his passion educating the running community that they don’t need to stop running to get over a running injury.  Through his signature 1:1 coaching program, weekly videos, and podcast episodes, he empowers runners to get stronger, run faster, and enjoy lifelong injury free running.  Dr. Duane truly believes that anyone can run and that all runners should be treated differently when recovering from an injury.  He is on a mission to change the traditional thinking that running causes “overuse injuries” or “your body is just not meant to run” and you must “take a break” to get better.  Through strength and run specific training you can grow a strong mind, strong body, and just keep running!


Duane received his Bachelor of Health Science degree and Master of Physical Therapy degree from Quinnipiac University in 2001 and 2003. He then went on to receive a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2017. Duane is a board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, RRCA Certified Running Coach, Certified Mulligan Practitioner, certified in dry needling and has advanced training in spinal manipulation and rehabilitation for runners.


As an athlete, Duane is an adult-onset runner, avid half marathoner, and enjoys challenging himself to learn and grow in his personal running journey!


A native New Yorker from Long Island, Duane currently lives in Cheshire, Connecticut with his wife Deb and his two teenage daughters who are competitive volleyball players.  They all love to explore new beaches along the east coast.



  • duane@sparkyourtraining.com


Get weekly running tips on the Healthy Runner Podcast…available wherever you get your podcasts!

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