9 Tips for Running on Gravel That Helped Me

There are a few things that match the thrill of going on a trail run. The sound of your shoe heels skidding on the ground, deep breaths, and your heart beating faster than usual.

All these feelings ought to make you feel good.

If you’re choosing a gravel road for your next jog, you may want to follow some tips to ensure that you do it right. These 9 tips are a good place to start.

9 Tips for Running on Gravel

If you’re choosing a gravel road for your next jog, you may want to follow some tips to ensure that you do it right. These 9 tips are a good place to start.

1. Go Easy on Yourself at First

Gravel roads will cause you to get tired faster and sweat more than you regularly do. Don’t take this as a sign of going soft and try to prove otherwise.

It’s only your body’s way of getting used to the new knobbly surface. Therefore, you should go for short distances at first to get your body accustomed to the effort.

2. Invest in a Pair of Trail Shoes

Trail shoes are better suited for gravel roads than regular running shoes. They’ll have a better impact on the ground.

Plus, they won’t get worn out from the hundreds of tiny rocks. There are a lot of high-quality trail shoes on the market that suit both men and women.

Other than their robust build, trail shoes protect your ankle from sudden rolls, which is a common occurrence in gravel running.

Additionally, these shoes increase traction against the ground, which will be useful in wet weather.

3. Straighten Your Back While Running

Gravel roads require more effort to run than regular, soft ground. So, you may find yourself tired after a few minutes and tempted to bend your body forward.

A lot of runners do this to relieve the strain off their lower back. However, this posture will prevent your lungs from getting all the oxygen it needs.

Therefore, you should always make sure to keep your back straight while running. If you need to, you can swing your arm to adjust your body. No matter what you choose to do, avoid hunching forward as much as you can.

4. Hold Your Feet in the Right Position

Gravel roads are full of tiny sharp rocks that’ll slow your steps down. They can also get stuck in the front of your shoe, which will be hard to deal with at the moment if you’re speeding. That’s what you should try to avoid by keeping your toes facing up.

Upright running will protect your feet and heels from sliding out of the shoes. Not only that, but it’ll also ensure that you steer clear from rocks lodging into your soles.

5. Stay Away from Cotton Clothes

You may perceive cotton as a comfortable material to wear, but it’s not the right choice for running because of its slow drying.

In the case of gravel running, you’ll be sweating more than you usually do. Therefore, you should go for moisture-absorbing materials to wear. Merino wool may be a good option in this case.

This doesn’t only apply to your outfit, but also to your socks and layerings. If you’re running in rainy weather, you can include a windbreaker in your attire.

We also recommend that you wear your clothes in layers so you can take a piece of clothing off if it’s too hot. On the other hand, getting cold won’t be an issue because you’ll have extra layers.

6. Learn How to Balance Yourself Properly

When running on loose grounds or gravel roads, your primary focus should be balancing yourself.

This ensures you won’t land on the rocks in the wrong way, which serves as a health risk for your joints. Balancing yourself includes knowing how to jump and how to land your feet on the rough surface.

You can do that by including some single-leg exercises in your daily workout. They’re meant to improve your balancing. You could also incorporate some coordination exercises into the plan.

7. Practice Your Footing Well

If you’re only used to running on smooth roads, running on gravel may mess up with your footing at first.

The pebbles or rocks on the ground may serve as an obstacle. That’s why you should know the right running technique for these kinds of roads.

For starters, you should practice fast, short steps. That way, your feet have less contact with the gravel, which enables you to continue running better.

You can use an agility ladder for this kind of training. Additionally, you should keep your feet close together in small jumps when running.

Going for wide steps may cause an imbalance if your feet hit a ground bump.

8. Grab a Running First-Aid Kit

If you’re going on a long trip, you may want to take your precautions, in case you get hurt.

A first-aid kit for running should include bandages, athletic tape, and emergency medicine. Running injuries are usually not serious.

However, the sharp rocks can cause blisters, which can be painful to endure while running.

Needless to say that you should always carry water on running trips. Dehydration holds more health risks than any minor injury. Plus, your body will need to compensate for the fluids you lose when sweating.

Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit (120 Piece) + Bonus 32-Piece Mini Kit: Compact, Lightweight for Emergencies at Home, Outdoors, Car, Camping, Workplace, Hiking & Survival
11,683 Reviews
Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit (120 Piece) + Bonus 32-Piece Mini Kit: Compact, Lightweight for Emergencies at Home, Outdoors, Car, Camping, Workplace, Hiking & Survival
  • New & Upgraded For 2021: 2-In-1 Premium First Aid Emergency Kit With 120 Medical Grade Items
  • Fully Stocked: Organized Interior Compartments Provides Quick Access. Rugged, Sturdy, High Density
  • Includes Mini-First Aid Kit: Amazingly Small, Lightweight Mini Kit With Additional 32 Medical Items
  • Multipurpose: Perfect For Any Occasion Or Events - Family, Home, Workplace, Emergencies, Outdoors

9. Don’t Forget Your Warm-up Exercise

If you’re a frequent runner, you probably know what running without warming up feels like. The body gets exhausted much faster, and the dizziness starts to hit shortly after.

It’s the same case when jogging on gravel, but it adds more strain on the body because the running surface isn’t as smooth.

Therefore, you should always warm up before going running on a gravel road. That way, you allow your body to prepare itself for the hard work.

Final Thoughts

Trail and gravel roads aren’t quite the same as smooth surfaces. They require a different running technique and more precautions to keep your feet steady.

The most vital thing to remember is keeping your footing in short steps. In addition, try to run in small jumps, rather than letting your feet chase each other.

You’ll get the full enjoyment of the experience while keeping yourself safe.


Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API