Thanks to Sid Willis from the Hungry Runner for sharing this article.
Trail running is becoming increasingly popular. One of the appealing factors is that trail running is all about enjoying nature — in Townsville, in Australia and around the world —and the forever-changing terrain makes the run exciting and fun. But practising a few skills can make the experience even more enjoyable.
Here are some tips that will help you on the trails:
Invest in specific equipment
Get a comfortable pair of trail running shoes. Trail running shoes are much stiffer than road shoes, and offer more grip and stability. This will protect your feet and will give you a safer run. Also, buy yourself a running pack or running belt. This will allow you to carry water and nutrition, as trail running sessions are usually longer than sessions on road.
Leave home prepared
Often trails are in remote locations, so you’ll need to carry a mobile phone so you can call for help if needed. Bring a map so you don’t get lost, and add a snake bandage in case you twist your ankle or get a bit too close to the Australian wildlife.
Think in time not distance
Often trails include uphills and downhills that make running them very demanding and will slow you down. Therefore, don’t plan your run in kilometres, as you will probably be much slower than expected.
Use your heart rate to control your effort, not speed
On trails it can be difficult to know how hard you are running, as you cannot rely on speed when the trails are not flat. With a heart rate monitor, you can easily watch if you are running too hard and use your heart rate to pace your effort.
Make sure you train on different surfaces
Not only will this make you a better all-round runner, but it will also add variety to your training. Luckily, Townsville has a lot to offer! There are stairs, steep roads, 4WD tracks, and technical single tracks, so make the most of it.
Don’t over-do it on the uphills
It is easy to get carried away during an uphill. Instead, do short steps and breathe deeply. The energy you save will allow you to keep good speed on the flat and downhill sections, where you can actually make a difference!
Train the downhills
Steep rocky trails can be scary and hard on the legs, so train them. Pick a one-minute downhill and repeat it five or six times and try to get quicker on each descent. You will be surprised how much more confident it makes you feel.
Increase your cadence
Having a high cadence will make you a more efficient runner, but also enables you to run safer. When doing small steps, you react quicker in case you slide or trip.
Keep speed work in your schedule
After all, trail running is running, so train your speed on a road or track where you can measure it easily. Doing some 200m to 800m repeats will help you move quicker on the trails.
Do strength training
Trail running is more demanding on your body than running on road, so get prepared by working on leg strength and core resistance. Squats, lunges and planks should be part of your weekly schedule.
Find out more about French-born and Townsville-based Sid Willis and the Hungry Runner here: http://www.hungryrunner.net/. There are plenty of fantastic trails to run in Townsville, including Castle Hill, Pallarenda, Magnetic Island, Paluma, Alligator Creek and more. If you’d like to get competitive, check out the trail runs in our calendar, with Outer Limits Adventure Fitness hosting a Trail Running Series.