Skills & Techniques

Running for Beginners the Leave No Trace Way

Guest - May 8, 2020

Are you new to running? Perhaps it’s a sport that you’ve always wanted to try, or maybe it’s your only chance to get some alone time away from your family right now. Either way, the best way to hit the trail running is with the skills and knowledge to practice Leave No Trace. Everyone deserves and needs to feel and be safe when they are running and recreating outdoors, and that takes all of us learning how to work together to make that possible.

Know Before You Go

If you’re heading to a nearby park or trailhead, research about the area before you head out to make sure it’s open, and to learn about rules and regulations in the area. If you know that it is a trail that tends to be busy, consider choosing a less popular trailhead or running closer to home to prevent overcrowding that can lead to trail widening and erosion.Stick to Trails, Even When It’s Muddy 

Run on durable surfaces such as trail, rock and roads, run through mud puddles or patches to prevent trail widening and avoid cutting switchbacks to prevent erosion that can lead to sedimentation and turbidity in local waterways. If a trail is especially muddy, choose another route to give it time to recuperate. In areas where you can get off trail such as grassy fields, avoid creating social trails by dispersing your impact.

Be Prepared to Bury or Pack Out Your Waste

Many park and trailhead bathroom facilities will continue to be closed through this transition, even when trails and roads may be open. Make your own mini backcountry poop kit to bring on your runs so that you’re ready when the time strikes.Pack It In, Pack It Out

For your longer runs when you bring an energy snack or gel, be prepared to pack out any wrappers and trash, and use a reusable water bottle to minimize your impact of single use items. 

Be Respectful of Flora and Fauna

Running is a wonderful time to check in with yourself and the natural world. See a beautiful flower or a cool looking rock? Take a picture and leave it for others to enjoy as well. See a cool animal? Make sure you’re viewing them from a safe distance to Respect Wildlife.

Be Kind and Communicate 

Interactions can still be friendly on the trail even when we are six feet apart from each other! Communicate to let others know you’re coming and pass carefully. Use the yield triangle to help you determine who has the right away on the trail, and always ask what the person you’re passing prefers. On some trails, you may not be able to get 6 feet away from someone unless you do step off the trail.  Communicate thoughtfully and do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and one another. Everyone needs to feel and be safe while running, no matter their race, class or gender and that takes all of us learning, growing and doing the work, together. Have a Mask, and Be Prepared to Wear It 

Wearing a mask helps protect others around you from the germs that you may have. As long as you feel safe to, be prepared to wear a mask. Being prepared with a mask, whether or not regulations require it in your area is a thoughtful way to Be Considerate of Others, especially for those moments on the trail that you run into someone and are not able to get 6 feet away. Want more information on how to be a Leave No Trace runner? 

Check out our recommendations for getting outside during Covid-19 for more information on how you can best minimize your impacts right now. 

Check out this video for more tips for how to practice Leave No Trace when running!


By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about this important Leave No Trace work here.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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