Technique tips for trail-beginners
More and more endurance athletes join the new trend trailrunning. In contrast to a marathon, you don’t have any rules or guidelines to follow. In this type of running, it’s all about fun, nature experience and the big adventure. Natural hurdles like roots, puddles or pits give this sport its special flair. Wet feet and dirty clothes are part of the ritual. But trailrunning doesn’t need to be extreme. The athletes can adjust the training and trail level according to their individual performance. Especially beginners should genuinely evaluate their physical capacity to know their own limits. Just like in any other type of sport, trailrunning bears a certain risk of injury. But with the right technique you can avoid inconvenient situations as well as save strength and energy. MyJogStyle explains how you start trailrunning the right way.
Keep your eyes open
Even though trails are surrounded by a beautiful landscape, you should focus your attention to the next 5 to 10 metres. To reduce the danger of injury, you need to see obstacles early. Your instinct will tell if you run around the next hurdles or jump over them. Also, it is important to see what’s going on right in front of your head: Low tree branches have a tendency to take the fun out of the running experience.
Body posture and balance
In order to generate a flowing movement, the trailrunner’s position should be upright and slightly bent forward. That way, you keep your pace and avoid too much pressure on the knees. When you lean back a bit, especially while running downhill, you become slower – which can make sense through rough terrain, but also strains the knees. People who get in trouble with their balance on challenging trails should work with their arms and keep them moving.
Feet and pace
It’s a proven fact that the right running technique is a deciding factor for success in endurance sports. At a hill, where the ground is mostly unstable, an “elastic sliding” is indispensable. On an easy ground, you can lift your feet higher. On a difficult one, however, it is better to keep a close contact to the earth. To achieve this, keep your steps short and
touch down first with the front side of your foot. In general, that’s a good advice for running up and down a hill. Not only the pace is higher, but the bounce energy is partly cushioned too. The mid-foot-technique should be used on unstable soil like mud. It helps to increase the walking surface and provides a firm position. Extreme trailrunners should alternate the legs with which their jump and touch down to avoid injuries. An important part of the technique is the pace. The rule is: the more stable the ground, the slower the pace.
No fun with wrong shoes
A trailrunner’s most important utensil is the right shoe, which is hardly comparable to usual sport shoes. Because of the different grounds, it has to meet special requirements. There are some general rules to follow when you want to buy the right shoe for trailrunning: Every trail shoe has a good mid sole which protects the foot on rocky soil. Additional protection material in the upper and front area reduces the risk of getting injured. Make sure you have the necessary comfort. Attention: Only comfy shoes are good shoes! The toes need enough space and mustn’t poke each other. Nevertheless, too much space in the shoe is also dangerous, especially on slopes. The weather determines if you need breathable or waterproof trail shoes. Another aspect to consider: stability for the heels. That supports controlled running, diminishes the risk of twisting your ankle, and gives no room to blisters. More detailed information about the current models with their advantages and disadvantages are available at the local specialist shoe store.
Happy and healthy trails!
(image: © Sach Bloor – istockphoto.com)