The Basics of Trail Running

Written by Olivier

Running may be the most important component in obstacle racing as it is the fastest way to complete the course. Running however isn’t easy and it sure is trickier when navigating on uneven terrain (i.e. on a trail or simply off road), which is very common in this sport. If you’re lucky, the path will be patted down, but even in this scenario you have to be alert for hazards such as rocks, roots or water that might slow you down or worst-case scenario can produce a serious injury.

Here’s a quick how to guide when trail running:

Continue your normal stride rate and stride length, but be ready to adapt according to the demands of the trail. If for example you’re running uphill or in a technical section (i.e. such as a steep slippery descent and through a small creek) you’ll have to shorten your stride and increase your stride rate, as long strides are not safe or efficient for that kind of terrain. Learning to pick up your feet is also important, the last thing you want is to drag one foot, hit a root, fall and maybe hurt yourself. While it may be tempting to look at the scenery when you’re trail running, I suggest you stop completely if you want to appreciate Mother Nature. Depending where you’re running (close to a cliff, or in a technical descent) it is wiser to keep your eyes on your next few steps ahead to plan where you will place your feet. Think if where you’re about to step is safe for your health? For example, if your next step is going to be on a rock, does it look strong enough to support your weight or is the surface slippery? If you’re not sure then you should slow down your pace and even in some cases come to a walking pace in order to not injure yourself. I once neglected this and ended up twisting a bone in my foot because I was too aggressive on a descent L

Another truly important aspect when trail running is varying your foot strike throughout your run. Trust me when I say this you cannot only strike with the mid foot or fore foot when trail running, it is too demanding for your muscles. Even the world’s best trail runner Kilian Jornet does. Changing foot strike is important to reduce muscle damage and improve your running economy.

Choose proper footwear in order to have the proper grip for the right temperature and surface (i.e. wet, muddy, etc.) and if you forgot to plan your run well I hope you have water or food with you (fueling will be discussed in another post) as you may end up running a little bit further.

How to Attack a an Off-road Hill

Remember guys running when your competitors are walking will set you apart from competition.

I release new content every 2 weeks so if you feel up for it join me on this journey and let’s do this together. It’s not as scary as you might think.

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