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6 spring trail running tips to help you seize the longer days

Mature sportsman trail running in the mountains on meadow against blue sky
Use our 6 spring trail running tips to prepare for changeable conditions and seize the longer days and warmer weather (Image credit: Getty)

Spring trail running just sounds right. You’ve been cooped up indoors for months (or at the very least, had your feet jammed in ski boots) and summer’s oppressive heat hasn’t arrived yet to make you think twice about exerting yourself outdoors. The days are plenty long and the daytime temperatures mean you no longer have to worry about frostbite. But the thing about spring is that the weather can be quite volatile, swinging from hail and snow squalls one minute to warm and sunny the next. Plus, you might not be quite as fit as you were in the fall when you packed your trail running shoes away for winter. Our six trail running tips help you prepare for all conditions and hit the ground running without overdoing it so you can start getting some fresh air and be back in fighting shape by the time summer rolls around. 

1. Ease in 

Women running together on remote trail

Be patient and build back up to your previous running pace and distance slowly (Image credit: Getty)

Whether you’ve taken a complete break from running over the winter or you’ve been relying on the treadmill for maintenance, the long days and soft trails are likely to inspire you to want to go longer and harder, but take care and build back up slowly. Use our tips for how to increase your running distance to make sure you don’t overdo it and end up on the bench instead of the trail for the season. Be patient and think long term. 

2. Review your shoes 

A woman trail running

The average running shoes has about 300 - 500 miles in it before you need a new pair (Image credit: swissmediavision)

We get used to how our trail running shoes feel when we’re wearing them daily but when you pull them out of the closet after a hiatus, you might be surprised to find that they don’t have as much cushion left as you thought – know when it’s time to replace your running shoes and make sure to recycle your old pair

3. Stay low 

A couple running on the beach at sunset

If you live near the coast, beach running can be a good way to avoid mud and snow (Image credit: pixdeluxe)

When choosing a route, it’s usually best to stick to lower elevations at this time of year. Though you might be eager to get up into the mountains after winter, higher elevation trails might still be impassable with snow and ice and avalanche conditions can be higher with the freeze/thaw effect, too. Stick to low ground or even beach running for now. 

4. Mind the mud 

Mud running shoes

Sadly, spring is usually synonymous with mud (Image credit: Getty)

We probably don’t need to tell you that spring is usually synonymous with mud. Even if you don’t live in a place with a full blown mud season, rising temperatures mean thawing ground and, combined with higher rainfall, that can make for some seriously sloppy conditions. Not only is this frustrating, but running on muddy trails can cause erosion. Seek out drier trails when you can, and use our guide for running in mud to keep your stoke levels up. 

5. Plan for snow 

Three women running uphill in the snow

If you live in more northern climes snow and ice are just as much of a possibility as mud and warm weather (Image credit: Thomas Barwick)

We know we were just harping on about mud, but pretty much anything can happen in spring. If you live in more northern climes snow and ice are just as much of a possibility as mud and warm weather, so if you’re going further afield, consider bringing traction for your shoes such as Yaktrax or Microspikes and make sure your running shoes have good tread. 

6. Dress in layers 

Ultimate Direction Ultra waterproof Jacket

Get yourself a super lightweight, windproof and waterproof running jacket for spring (Image credit: Ultimate Direction)

And finally, if it weren’t already evident, you’ll want to dress in layers for most springtime runs. You might not need to wrap up the way you do for winter running, but over your running top you’ll almost definitely want to wear a windproof, waterproof lightweight running jacket that can be tied around your waist when the sun comes out. 

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.