Fast-forward seven years and the 30-year-old holds records for many top trail events, including the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (14 hours, 9 minutes, 28 seconds) and the 42-mile Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim trail (5 hours, 55 minutes, 20 seconds). He even cranks out insanely fast miles on road, finishing 22nd at the Olympic Marathon Trials in February with a 2:15:05 in his debut (5:10 per mile).

Chances are youre no Walmsley, but like him, you might have a sense of adventure and find that trail running scratches that itch.

Walmsley's Tips for Trail Running

Forget about pace

Walmsleys advice for trail-running newbies is simple. Pick places you want to go, that inspire you to get out the door, he says. Even if its a ribbon of dirt around Central Park, or up to the top of the local hill youd normally only hike. Set realistic expectations: Your per-mile time on a trail wont equal what you run on road. Thats fine; youre still making massive fitness gains.

But find challenging terrain

Make a purposeful attempt to get on trails that challenge you, says Walmsley. That can mean super-rocky terrain that forces you to work on foot placement while strengthening your core muscles, or hilly terrain that taxes your cardiovascular system. Or eventually both, as you gain confidence. Its okay to power-hike on ascents. Run descents carefully and deliberately, but avoid tensing up.

Avoid face-planting (too often)

Know that even the best trail runners in the world fall, says Walmsley. We get caught off guard by sniper rocks. It happens. Scan a few yards down the trail for upcoming obstacles, but also glance down directly in front of you to target your foot strikes. Use your arms more as a counterbalance, especially when descending.

Use trails as portals to adventure

When choosing routes, decide what youre craving:

Tranquility? Run a trail to a lake or next to a river.

Quiet? Choose a route in dense woods.

Achievement? Run to the top of something.

A reboot? Choose a rocky, rooty, or twisty trail that forces you to be present and think about your footing instead of your work/relationship/money/etc.

Never be bored while running again

While you run, try ticking these items off a mental checklist (and feel free to create your own list based on your local surroundings):

  • Spot a four-legged animal (chipmunk, squirrel, deer, raccoon, cat in a window, etc.)
  • Hear a bird chirping (and put words to its chirp)
  • Smell a flower (or pine needle; aaah, nature)
  • Spot a tree that looks like a human
  • Spot a human that looks like a tree (a shirtless, bearded man will do)

Get some good gear, especially trail shoes

Traction in the form of multidirectional rubber lugs on your soles can keep you upright on gravel, wet grass, and slippery rocks. The Hoka One One Torrent 2 delivers superior traction and cushioning. $120.