Like many others, you want to start trail running, but live in a big city with no mountains close by? No problem! Also in cities, there are countless opportunities for trail running away from paved roads -you just have to look closely. In this trail running guide, we will show you how to get the most out of urban areas, what you have to consider when trail running in cities and how to best prepare yourself. Plus, we have put together a few popular routes for you in Munich, Vienna and Zurich. You can use them as they are, and of course, modify them as you like – after all, that’s what trail running is all about: discovering your own, new trails.
Whether city or nature – countless trail running possibilities are available everywhere
Trail running in the city is definitely different than in the mountains, but by no means less diverse. In every major European city there are countless green spaces – just take a quick look at the city map or open Google Maps. Besides city parks, offering plenty of rooted paths, ups and downs, you can also use green areas along rivers and streams for trail running. Of course, you can also use the water area itself by crossing it or jumping over. Additionally, many cities offer public gardens, providing a large green network.
Apart from green and water areas, various architectural elements can be used ideally. These include, of course, stairs, but for example also walls and railings for balancing and bollards and benches to jump over. With a little creativity, the possibilities seem endless.
If you find it difficult to find good routes and trails in your city at the beginning, you can get lots of inspiration and tips on various platforms and forums. For example, on the Salomon Running website, you can find route suggestions for almost any larger European city. You can also use numerous apps to find trails. Strava, for instance, shows you routes from other runners and lets you record your own running tracks as well. In many cities, there are also running clubs and communities that you can easily join.
Although it is probably the exception in urban areas, you should absolutely respect protection areas and private grounds when looking for new trails. These include designated areas in forests, parks and other green spaces as well as any private properties.
The right preparation and equipment for your urban trAil running workout
Especially if you are running apart of paved and flat paths, it is important to warm up well. On rooted paths, slippery ground or uneven cobblestone pavement, unusual movements can quickly occur. If your muscles, tendons and sinews are still cold, you will quickly get strains or other injuries.
Therefore, you should warm up your whole body and also train your fine motor skills. In order to activate a large part of your musculature, jumps over obstacles and stair sprints are working well. To improve your fine motor skills, you can include foot circuits or fast tripping on the spot in your warm-up exercises. It will give you more stability and control in the ankle and reduce your risk of injury.
For every trail runner the most important part of the equipment are, of course, the shoes. For trail running in the city, you need shoes with which you can run both on hard ground like asphalt, and on uneven, soft terrain. Therefore, it is important that the shoes have a good cushioning and a deeper profile than ordinary running shoes. Find out how to chosse the right shoe for you in our → ABC of trail running shoes.
In addition to proper trail running shoes, you should always have a few little things with you – because a trail run often takes longer than originally planned. These include a small snack and something to drink, your smartphone, some change, a rain jacket (depending on the weather) and a first aid kit. Above all, having a smartphone and some money with you is most helpful if you get lost while looking for new trails and need to get back home by bus or subway. All these things can be quickly and easily stored in a running vest, a running backpack, or in a small hip bag.
Get more detailed information here: → Trailrunning backpacks and hip belts: Faithful companions over rough and smooth
Popular Trails in Munich, Vienna And ZUrich
To give you a little foretaste of what is waiting for you, we will introduce you to popular trail running routes in Munich, Vienna and Zurich. You can find more routes on the Salomon Running website or in the respective Salomon Running app.
Munich – a relaxing run through the Olympic Park
A rather relaxed route with almost 8km and a total elevation of 100m is waiting for you at the Olympic Hill in Munich. You start at 88 North at Riesstraße 16. From there you follow the Riesstraße past the Atrium to the Olympia shopping center. Once arrived, a staircase sprint awaits you, before continuing over the bridge to the Olympic Park. In the Olympic Park, you run on the walking path to the BMW World and cross the bridge there. Here you have a great view of the Olympic Tower. Before going uphill to the Olympic Hill, you run across the bridge over the Olympic Lake. Once at the top you can enjoy another great view – this time over whole Munich. Continue to the Olympic Stadium, where you cross the Olympic Lake once again. At the event stadium, you leave the park and run to the finish, the Uptown Tower.
Vienna – endless possibilities in the Vienna Prater and along the Danube Canal
This 12km Trail right in the heart of Vienna takes you through parks and along the Danube – there is almost no elevation on this route. You start at the Praterstern. From there you follow the Prater Hauptallee into the Vienna Prater, past the Ferris wheel and some meters through the amusement park. Then you cross the Kaiserwiese, before turning left on the historic harness racing track. Continue past the Prater Stadion and on narrow trails to the Erdberger footbridge. There you cross the Danube Canal and follow it upstream on the riverside. You come by several works of Hundertwasser before crossing the bridge over the Wien River to the Urania, where you descend again to the river. At the Salztor bridge, you cross the canal and run up the stairs again. You cross the Kamilitermarkt and continue to the Palais Augarten, where you turn into the Augarten Park. There you can choose between different grounds and finally come past two Flak towers before you leave the park again. Follow the street “Am Tabor” and the Nordbahnstraße back to the Praterstern.
Zurich – from the city to the local mountain
This trail to the Zurich local mountain, the Uetliberg, and back again covers a distance of 9.6km and an elevation of about 450m. Starting point of the route is the Sihlcity shopping center. At the back of the shopping center, you run along the river, past the skate park and through an underpass away from the Sihl. After the underpass, you run past the football field on the left and finally reach the first trail up to the Uetliberg. After a few hundred meters, turn right, pass the road traffic licensing department and follow the sidewalk to the restaurant Albisguetli. Before you enter the forest, turn right into Kolbenhofstraße and continue up the sidewalk. Turn left into the Denzlerweg and follow the path, slowly turning into a steep trail with a bridge and stairs. At the end of the Denzlerweg climb the last few meters up to the Uetliberg Kulm and enjoy the view. Back down, run past the end of the Denzlerweg, through a playground and continue along the ridge. After a few hundred meters leave the trail and turn right onto a wide hiking trail. Follow this trail until you reach another playground, which you cross again. The following hairpin bends take you back to the city to the Triemli station. Along the Eichstraße and the Manessestraße you get back to Sihlcity.
No matter in which city you live and which trails you run – trail running is always a good alternative to the same, monotonous running route. Plus, trail running does not only promote your endurance, like usual running, but also improves your coordination and concentration.
Read more about the benefits of trail running and why it makes you happy in our blog post →The trail to happiness.