4 March 2024

Embrace the Trail: Enhance Your Running Experience with Barefoot Footwear

Embrace the Trail: Enhance Your Running Experience with Barefoot Footwear

Trail running is a thrilling adventure that takes you off the beaten path and helps you reconnect with nature. With its rugged terrain, scenic landscapes, and exhilarating challenges, trail running offers a unique experience that road running or treadmills can’t match. 

Trail running can transform your running, natural health, and relationship with nature – especially if you trail run in barefoot footwear. 

But first …

What is trail running?

Road running takes place on smooth, flat surfaces – usually roads or pavements. Trail running, on the other hand, takes place in nature.

 Trail running involves following hiking trails, farm tracks, and other paths through nature. Sometimes trail running means going beyond the trail. It involves navigating uneven terrain, steep inclines, and obstacles like rocks, roots, and mud. 

However, trail running isn’t all about gruelling expeditions over long distances in remote places. Trail running is for everybody, everywhere. You can trail run short distances in your local woodland or over multiple days through remote mountains.

That said, trail running is often a full-body workout that requires more strength, agility, and mental focus than your average road run. This means it’s an excellent way to challenge yourself physically and mentally.

How to start trail running

Not sure how to trail run? Or want to refresh your trial-running skills? Check out VivoHealth’s online Discover Trail Running course, with trail-running expert Jenny Tough. It will teach you how to plan, train and run for healthy, high-performance trail-running adventures.

In the meantime, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Start slow. If you're new to trail running or barefoot footwear, it's essential to ease in gradually. Begin by incorporating short trail runs into your routine, then slowly increase the distance and intensity as your body adjusts.
  2. Wear the right trail-running footwear. The best footwear for trail running offers a durable outsole for grip and protection, flexibility for natural movement, weather-resistant materials (depending on your location), and a secure fit to prevent slippage on uneven terrain. Learn more about the best barefoot trail-running footwear below.
  3. Focus on form. Trail running requires a different running technique to road running, with shorter strides and a higher cadence to navigate obstacles efficiently. Focus on maintaining a light and nimble foot strike.
  4. Get stronger. The best way to get better at trail running is to trail run. However, running strength training away from the trail will help build foot and ankle strength. VivoHealth’s Barefoot Fundamentals course is a great place to start, if you’re new to barefoot. After that, the Twelve-Week Foot and Ankle Program will give you strong, resilient foundations in no time (alright, twelve weeks).
  5. Embrace the challenge. Trail running can be tough – there's no denying that. But it's also incredibly rewarding. Embrace the challenges of the trail, from steep climbs to rocky descents, and remember that every step brings you closer to becoming a stronger, more resilient runner.
  6. Stay safe. Always prioritise safety when trail running. Be aware of your surroundings, carry essentials like water and navigation tools, and let someone know your planned route and estimated return time. And if you're running in wet or muddy conditions, consider investing in waterproof or water-resistant trail-running shoes to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

The best footwear for trail running

Footwear is arguably your most important piece of trail-running gear. And the best running shoes aren’t necessarily the best trail-running shoes.

Road-running shoes are designed for smooth surfaces, and won’t provide the traction or protection needed for safe trail performance. Trail-running footwear does. It features rugged outsoles with deep lugs for superior grip, and reinforced (possibly weatherproof) uppers to protect your feet from debris and sharp objects.

But the best trail-running footwear goes deeper. 

Barefoot trail-running shoes are wide, thin, and flexible, with less padding. This offers a range of benefits that can revolutionise your trail-running technique and experience. 

  1. Stability. Wide footwear lets your toes spread as nature intended, improving your balance and stability in rough terrain.
  2. Sensory feedback. Thin soles increase sensory feedback. This can help you identify and correct movement imbalances, reducing your risk of injury. It also helps quickly adjust to uneven ground, and it brings you closer to nature than traditional trail footwear.
  3. Flexibility. Flexible footwear lets your feet move naturally, giving you greater range of motion in awkward terrain and working more foot and ankle muscles in the process. The result is stronger, more resilient foundations.
  4. Skilful movement. For all these reasons, barefoot trail runners help improve your proprioception, or movement awareness, when moving through nature.
  5. Less weight. Because barefoot trail runners have less padding, they are lighter than normal trail-running shoes. This is a big deal, especially over longer distances, because carrying weight on your feet is disproportionately tiring. The rule of thumb is that one pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back. 

Ready to hit the trail?

In conclusion, trail running in barefoot footwear offers a unique and exhilarating experience that can enhance your running performance and deepen your connection with nature. By following these tips and embracing the challenges of the trail, you'll discover a whole new world of adventure waiting right outside your doorstep. Lace up those barefoot shoes, hit the trails, and let your journey begin!

  1. Primus Trail Knit FG Womens
    Primus Trail Knit FG Womens
    £116.00 £140.00
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  3. Primus Trail III All Weather FG Womens
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