A Beginner’s Guide To Trail Running In Summer
Photography by Sean Laurénz
Kinda gives “happy trail” a whole new meaning.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably asking yourself – is trail running for me? Well, if you’re a road runner and love the rush you get from a good run but you’re tired of breathing in exhaust fumes, then trail running is definitely for you.
It’s also for you if you: love the outdoors, are adventurous, looking for a challenge, find you get injuries from road running, or you just like to get dirty!
The Benefits Of Trail Running Are
• It has far less impact on the body as you don’t pound the road as much.
• Trail running works the whole body.
• The unpredictability of terrain improves your sense of balance and awareness.
• Running on the trail requires you to use more muscles and so burns more kilojoules than pavement running.
• A trail runner’s ankles and knees become stronger due to the uneven terrain.
• Dirt trails absorb the impact for your joints.
On a trail you never really know what kind of terrain you are going to get, some of the different surfaces you’ll encounter will be soft sand or beach sand, streams, mud, rocks, jeep track, single track and forest paths as well as bridges and crossings.
How To Navigate The Terrain
Sand is difficult to run on, especially when it’s loose. Don’t run in a straight line, but rather search for the firmest footing. Typically you’ll find the hardest-packed sand and the fastest line on the very edge of the trail.
Besides getting dirty, when running on a muddy surface, there’s a greater chance of slipping, and mud tends to stick to your shoes, making them heavy. So look closely. Shiny mud is invariably wet and liable to suck you in. Mud with a dull appearance is usually firmer and faster to run on.
On rocky terrain, lift your legs higher to avoid tripping. The front of your shoes could trip you up if they get caught (which happens often) so try and step lightly with a flat foot, while concentrating hard. Also don’t over-commit to your choice of footing as if you do slip you are likely to hurt yourself, whereas if you step lightly you can react quickly.
Forest paths or single track usually hide rocks and roots. Wooded areas also tend to retain moisture, so trails can be slippery especially roots and logs, so watch out, and try to avoid stepping on them if possible.
When it comes to streams, you can actually cross while barely wetting your feet. All you have to do is high-step across as quickly as possible, allowing your feet to touch down only for a fraction of a second. Don’t however be afraid to run right through a stream.
Now all that’s left to do is go out get yourself a pair of trail shoes and hit the off-road!
Looking for more info on running? Here’s how to get trail running ready so that you can take on those rocky mountain paths. Want to kickstart your own weight-loss journey for summer and beyond? Get our Lean Body Blitz 12-week meal and fitness plan to turbo-charge your slim-down.