07 Jul. 2022 · Summer Activities
Sarina Berchtold

HOW TO: Trail running for beginners

Experience nature. Adapt the run to the conditions. Enjoy the moment and the view. The main focus of Trail running is adventure and fun. There is no need to track kilometers or your pace. This makes trail running in a smaller style interesting even for beginners. 

"Runner" - this term is not protected. You don't have to run a certain number of kilometers or participate in a marathon. Running is something most people do from about the age of one. Nevertheless, you constantly read "sitting is the new smoking", "lack of exercise - sitting makes you sick". So the fact is: most of us definitely don't walk enough. For many, this is the reason to get back into their running shoes and try to start their running career. What often happens in the process? The motivation quickly stays on the track or the body hurts and you give it up again. "I'm just not a runner," maybe you have said it yourself sometime. That brings us back to the point: Human beings ARE born to be runners. Our entire biomechanics are designed for running. How else could our ancestors have walked tens of miles?

Trailrunning in Kleinwalsertal

We have forgotten how to run

The problem is: We have forgotten how to run. People in the Western world spend most of their day sitting. And when we' re not sitting, we' re standing in a posture that is as damaging to our backs as possible. The human body, with its muscles and tendons, is simply no longer used to walking for long periods of time, let alone running. Therefore, start slowly! Get your body used to the movement step by step. And this is where trail running comes in. Instead of mindlessly making the same rounds around the house every day, challenging your body on tar, just unpack your inner child for a change and jump through puddles and over roots.

Sarina Berchtold Trailrunning

Trail running - advantages for running beginners

Running on dirt trails - at first it seems very challenging and better suited for advanced and professional runners. However, trail running is ideal for running beginners. At second glance, perhaps even significantly better than running laps on hard surfaces in the city.

To turn your first attempts at running into a habit or a new favorite hobby, you need some endurance. When trail running you discover new things, great views and you can combine it with a trip to nature. Around every bend, you can explore a new world. Definitely conducive to motivation. Another point is the speed. Whether you run or walk does not matter in trail running. Often it is better to walk. The switch from running and walking is optimal, especially for running beginners.

Trailrunning training | © Sarina Berchtold | Photographer: Dominik Berchtold

Stumbling blocks at the beginning

And now? Should we just start running? The pictures of narrow trails and technical downhills look tempting. But it's not quite that simple. As with any new sport, you first need to practice. Otherwise you'll fall face down in no time. In the truest sense of the word. ? The demands on coordination, balance and technique, as well as on muscles, ligaments and tendons, are significantly higher for cross-country running than for road running. Therefore, a slow start is advisable. If you try too much too fast, you'll exceed your limits and, in the worst case, you'll overstrain yourself and injure yourself.

It is therefore a good idea to start running at home, rather than on vacation in the mountains. You can strengthen your muscles in advance and also train your stability. The best way is to train early and regularly on uneven terrain without climbing mountains right away. Many meters of altitude, steep terrain, expensive equipment, optimizing technique - all this comes (maybe) much later. Trailrunning on a smaller scale definitely has its appeal for body and mind and Kleinwalsertal with its trails even at medium altitudes is the ideal playground for it.

Trailrunning in Kleinwalsertal


Daniel (left) was born and raised in Kleinwalsertal and is one of the most successful active trail runners in the valley. H His tips for preparing for trail running.

  1. Approach slowly! The best way to do this is on gentler terrain. This allows the muscles to build slowly, in addition to coordination skills, to absorb and cushion while running. "If you approach too briskly, the risk of injury is very high". You can support this with appropriate strength training.
  2. Get down with the speed! "In general, it is often the case in everyday training that people start too fast. So that on the one hand the speed is immediately too high and you have the feeling that everything must already hurt." This is not the case. It is better to train a lot in the basic range and with a good feeling.
  3. Walking is explicitly allowed. Don't grit your teeth on uphill sections and walk rather than run. "At some point it is also more economical to walk. Even professionals do it. People do try to keep it up as long as possible, but if it's too steep, everyone starts walking."
  4. Practice technique on easy terrain. Try running downhill on the forefoot. For stability and to prevent injury. And uphill? Take small steps and lean your upper body slightly forward. Don't forget to breathe!

Easy practice trail for beginners

The Bärguntrunde in Baad. Here, beginners will find the perfect conditions for getting started in trail running over a distance of just under 5 km. Completely without asphalt. A gentle ascent with some short, steeper passages. Slightly undulating downhill and a narrow trail - ideal for practicing downhills. Have fun on your run! 

Sarina Berchtold Trailrunning | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Dominik Berchtold

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ENJOY. THE RUN. How running becomes a delight on vacation

Lace up your running shoes even on vacation in the mountains and actively recover with physical activity. Sarina berchtold tells us how to combine trail running with enjoyment and get to know the trails of Kleinwalsertal in a relaxed way.