Trail running is like any other type of running but more fun!!
It has some special characteristics and things you should be aware of.
Firstly, in theory it is supposed to be tough! It is physically and technically demanding and a rough rule of thumb about trail running is that “it is supposed to be faster on foot than on a bike”. We are off road and in the wilderness, so forget speed, distance and your personal bests. It is your own personal challenge and journey.
On the trails you need to be a lot stronger than any other type of running. Your muscles need to be strong to go up and down hills, your ankles, knees, hips and core need to be strong on the uneven terrain. Your mind needs to be strong to keep concentration, to focus on the task and make smart or safe decisions whilst being tired. You need to have more hand to eye (or foot in our case) coordination and to be agile with the ability to change direction quicker than in other forms of running.
Over the next few months I will be adding some training tips and tricks of the trade to this blog.
But the final thing I want to add is that trail running is about “feeling”. We are privileged to get the opportunity to be running in the nature, so feel it! Feel the elements, the wild, the damp and the forest. Smell the freshness and earthy smells. Look at the land, wildlife and changes in colour as the weather changed from autumn yellows and reds to darker winter, then the light when the snow is there, the green as spring starts and the vegetation comes back and then as it gets a little duller as it dries out into the hot summer. Don’t waste the experience by blocking it out with headphones, thinking about problems you can’t fix whilst running or “I’ll get this run finished quick because it’s raining” (if you’re out running, you’re likely to already have gotten wet, just look for the enjoyment, you probably have the whole forest to yourself, for example). Learn to enjoy it all, feel yourself improving, getting back to nature and feeling happier.
A very wise coach once told me “if you can not smile, you are running too hard”. This true and you can try it yourself. Run a few hundred meters upset, thinking nasty thoughts and scowling, then go back change your thinking, think about how nice this experience is, “I feel good, I am so lucky to do this” and smile. I am sure if you timed them both you will run better the 2nd time. If not, who cares it was more fun the second time!
Any questions you can find me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/joshbeechrunandocoach/