Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Q&A: Trail Running Tips

Q: I would love some tips on trail running!

A: I would love to share some tips with you! Trail running is my passion and I love discovering new trails and sharing them with my participants and trail running friends. Here are some tips to get you started:

Whether you are a first time trail runner or an experienced ultra marathoner, trail running safety should be a top priority before you hit the trails.

Buddy Up. Run with a friend in new or remote trails and make sure to leave word of your route. This way, a search party will waste no time heading out to find you if you don’t return on schedule.
Take the right gear with you. This includes a whistle for communication, map of the area, water, a quick energy snack, basic first aid kit, and a cell phone (some remote trails do not have cellular service so check first).
Be aware of your surroundings! Learn basic map reading and navigation skills before you venture off the beaten path. Having the ability to identify landmarks and navigate using terrain features can help you avoid wrong turns and decrease anxiety if you do go astray. Map reading skills will allow you to explore a new area with confidence and increased enjoyment.

Trail running requires more balance, agility and co-ordination than your usual road run. This means you need to be alert and ready to react to the ever-changing path in front of you. Here are some tips and tricks to remember:

Form: Don’t forget about your running posture in the trails. Run tall, chest high, shoulders down and back, hips forward. Good postural alignment will help you run more efficiently. Relax those arms, keep the hands loose and enjoy the scenery!
Trail Technique: Shorten your stride and increase turnover (how frequently your feet touch the ground) to improve your reaction time. On technical sections such as sand, loose dirt or gravel, shorten your stride even more to react quickly and avoid slipping.
Hills: Think in thirds. First third shorten your stride length and increase turnover slightly, in the second third maintain your pace, final third give a little push over the top and down the other side. Stand tall, drive the arms back and keep your head up to look over top of the hill.
Down hills: On an easy grade lean forward slightly, lengthen your stride, and let gravity do the work. If it is too steep/technical or if you feel out of control shorten your stride slightly and increase the turnover.

Happy Trails!

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