How to Start Trail Running… and Stay Excited About It

WORDS by Luisa Campos, Aire Libre Member

Lake District, Patagonia 2024 by Andrew Brown
Lake District, Patagonia Experience 2023/2024

My name is Luisa, and I have been part of the Aire Libre team for three years now. When I first arrived at the team and introduced myself, I used to say, “Hi, my name is Luisa, and I am a climber, not a runner.”

By that moment, I had tried to start running on asphalt at least a hundred times but somehow never caught the exciting feeling that running gives to a lot of people. I thought of it as extremely boring.

I needed to focus my mind on something else while doing it because if not, I would get bored in the first five minutes, and the whole point of starting running would become tremendously annoying.

After my arrival at the team, I immersed myself in the story of the founders: three friends who decided to go for a light run of 90 km through the desert.

“Interesting,” I thought.

“Still not for me, though.

It is just that running… No, not for me.”

Yet I knew there was something that moved me, a curiosity aroused.

I started hiking. A lot. I enjoy moving long distances through the woods, observing the trees, and listening to the birds chirping. I have walked down a local trail I really like, side by side with a river in the mountains near my home many times.   One of those times, I was going through a slightly downhill section and asked myself, how much time would it take me to do this trail if instead of walking I ran? I did a little sprint through the rocks and branches on the floor. And it hit me. That was fun. Really fun.
I realized that one thing was running in the city and something very different was doing it through nature. It felt like I was on a huge natural playground and started dreaming about the places I could visit. I mean, imagine a trail run through 100 km of mountains in Portugal or through the Baja California desert? How many things would you be able to see?

But, as I said before, running has never been my favorite sport, so I definitely had no idea on where to start, how to start, or even what to expect.

 

Starting a new sport takes time and dedication, and I know from experience that sometimes it can be irritating to feel like a ‘newbie’ for a long period of time and think of quitting very often.

 

I have started trail running for a few months now, and these are a few things that have helped me not only to start trail running but to keep myself motivated:

ASK QUESTIONS

First, to yourself. Why do I want to start trail running? How do I feel when I do it? Do I like how I feel? Be curious about yourself. No one is forcing you to do anything.

 

This is about you and what you want to do with your time and body.

 

After you have asked yourself these questions, look out for people that inspire you. How did they start running? What is the greatest tip they can give you? Which has felt as their greatest adventure?

 

Ask as many things you can think can help you.

 

They have done the road you are about to begin to navigate, and there is nothing wrong with feeling safe and ready for an unknown adventure.

THE RIGHT SHOES

The right running shoes are ESSENTIAL.

 

Forget about having the best digital watch or the coolest hydration vest. The first and most important thing you need is a good pair of trail running shoes. No question about it. They don’t have to hurt, they don’t have to be the latest fashion, they need to fit right, help you start strengthening your ankles, legs, and knees and keep you safe while discovering this new sport.

 

You also need to dig a bit deeper on technique, for sure. But even when perfecting technique, if you don’t have the right shoes to come with it, you will definitely start having a bad time each time you go out for a run.

GET YOURSELF INSPIRED

There are a lot of people out there doing awesome things, visiting incredible places, exploring new adventures. And they put it out to the world through blogs, videos, and photographs. Search for those stories and look for inspiration. Think of yourself in those places, exploring those adventures. Give yourself a high standard of expectations. This way motivation is always going to be there with you.

HAVE FUN

This might sound ridiculous, I know. But you have no idea how many people I have met that do stuff such as trail running or even climbing and they really don’t seem to have so much fun. They push themselves so hard to achieve goals they forget about the fun in it.

 

And listen to me, we do not have that much time on earth to just forget about enjoying ourselves.

 

So, if at any point it is not fun, stop. Think about what is going on, how are you feeling about it, and why is it that you are not enjoying it anymore. And change it. Even if this means pausing for a while and trying something new.

 

Remember why you started and try to focus on that.

TAKE OPPORTUNITIES

Sometimes we feel way too aware of ourselves, about how we are just starting and some things just look too hard, too much for us.

 

Nevertheless, adventure is sometimes about saying yes. Even if it is scary or complicated. It is about discovering yourself in those situations, learning more about your own mind and body.

 

Yes, opportunities come and go. In my experience, they go more than they come. So try not to miss much.

 

As I said before, our time on earth is too short not to enjoy ourselves every time we can.

After starting hiking and trail running, I have discovered that I do not take pleasure in a single sport per se, but in the idea of moving through nature in different ways.

 

I love feeling my whole body, my feet, my legs, my arms when I go into nature and immerse myself in it.

 

I have been in the Aire Libre team for three years now, and I have talked to new members of the team every time they arrive to introduce myself.

 

I now say to them, “Hi, my name is Luisa, and I am a climber… and a runner”.

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