It is already 2020. In the last few years, you initially started running when your in friends signed you up for a fun run. Then, you upgraded yourself to a 5km timed run and increased your distance to 10km races.
You always train around your neighbourhood, and run in races in the usual venues. You get bored. You need a new motivation. Then you see photos of your friends running in trails. They carry hydration packs, trekking poles and wear shoes that are trail specific. You get nervous. You want to try trail running but do not want to invest in a new set of gear and equipment.
Should you or should you not get into trail running?
Of course, you should! Firstly, trail running may be as tough nor dirty as you think it would. Perhaps, your friends just want to show off in this social media age about them roughing it out for the weekend.
Trail running has its benefits over road running, too. Usually, trails are not flat and it means there will be hills and slopes; these build your leg strength. The surface would be uneven; thus you would pick up some skills in coordination, agility and balance too.
There are trail running specific gear but if you just want to give trail running a try out, there is absolutely no necessity for you to go out there and splurge on new gear.
Trail running shoes typically have large lugs, teeth and the rubber may be stickier for a better grip. These are good if you run in technically rocky surfaces or or when things get muddy. If you are on road shoes, go easy. Do your trail run only on good weather days. And go to the recreational nature reserves; these are usually soft trails that do not need hardcore trail shoes.
Anything would do, really. Yes, you see trail runners with zippered tops and compression bottoms, but they are not necessary at all. Just put on what you normally wear for your road runs. Perhaps, go for darker colours in case you brush against bushes or fall, and the whites get dirty easily.
You see trail runners carrying the technical hydration packs, either with the bladder system or with soft flasks and the straws sticking out. They look cool but can cost an arm and a leg if you decide to abandon trail running after just a few attempts. You can always use a simple, small backpack and put your water bottle in it, or a waist bottle belt, or just carry a bottle in your hand!
Hardcore trail runners may boast of their super lightweight carbon trekking poles that can cost almost RM1k for a pair! Do not get distracted by all these gear talk. It is easy to get poisoned to spend, spend, spend. Sure, poles do have their purposes for long distance and tough terrain trails, but you do not need it at the start. And using poles also require proper technique, so should you really have the urge to buy one, just grab an entry-level set from a big sports department store. Have a good feel of how it should work, then only invest in a good set when you are ready.
In short, it is already 2020. Get into the trails if you have not started. But just go slow. Existing road running gear would be sufficient.