Trail running takes a much more difficult skill set than jogging on roads, but luckily it’s not hard to learn!
1. TRAIN FOR TRAILS
Many people say that the only way to become skilled at running on trails is to run on trails, but that may be difficult for many as they may not live on mountains or near mountains. A good substitute for this would be to jump onto the road curbs, onto small fences or even run on cobblestones or gravel just to break it up a bit. You could even run on a little trail you find in the bush or perhaps an open area. The most important thing is to break up your strides so you’re landing on your feet differently, which mimics the hazards of trails.
2. MANAGE YOUR FEAR
You have to overcome your fear of getting hurt. You need to become comfortable with almost falling downhill and knowing that your feet are going to get there to catch you. Practice will build your confidence but there are also a few tips and tricks that can help improve your technique. The most important thing is to not wear sunglasses while running trails, this is because spotted light can distort depth perception. You should also focus 5 metres ahead on the trail. When running bike paths, it’s easy to zone out and listen to your iPod, but on the more technical trails, you have to pick your feet up.” Therefore you should look about three strides ahead, and your feet will follow.
3. ATTACK YOUR WEAKNESSES
Even the best runners have room for improvement. You should pinpoint your own weaknesses by running with other people, whether it’s a race or with a local running club, then focus on improving, whether it’s climbing, descending, sprints, or endurance. The nice thing about running is that, once you become good at one thing, there’s always something you can work to improve on.
4. COMMIT TO A RACE
A race can give you something to focus on, an opportunity to be part of the running community, and a way to celebrate your training. It’s cool to go out and run ten km’s, but it’s really incredible to run ten km’s with 15,000 other people. Even if you’re not competitive, it’s a great way to be a part a massive group moving toward the same goal.
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5. CHANGE YOUR SHOES
It’s an age-old truth—repetitive motions can lead to overuse injuries but an effective solution: Change up your shoes. This keeps you from striking the ground in the same way. This is also great especially as it means that you are able to get a couple different pairs. You should have a variety of shoes, such as racing flats, hybrid road-and-trail shoes, burly trail runners, and even spring-loaded sneakers. With different weights, you place your feet differently, and it helps keep it fresh.