Now that the sun doesn’t go down until 8 p.m. and the weather is much nicer, why not spice up your running routine by hitting the trails? You’ll get to enjoy stunning views that will inspire you to keep going.
Also, swapping out the hard asphalt for softer ground can benefit your legs and knees very much; it’s easier on them. Reduce the amount of shock on your joints, muscles and bones and you won’t get tired very soon, which may be a sign your workouts are ineffective.
But there are some obstacles. Fallen trees, rocks and mounds of dirt are to be expected. Runner should prepare for them in order to avoid easily preventable injuries.
Take care of your feet
One of the most important things about sneakers that are to be used for trail running is to have dent rubber on the bottom as the surface is usually rugged, Matt Fitzgerald, runner, author coach and nutritionist, says. The shoes should be water-resistant too. But more than anything else, the running shoes should be comfortable. “Comfort is information,” Fitzgerald adds. “The body will tell you if the shoe is allowing you to move properly.”
Protect your ankles
Your feet and legs should be ready for the potential twists and rocks along the way. After all, you’re not running on a treadmill anymore; the route may have rocks, branches or dirt. A great exercise for that, Fitzgerald says, is to balance yourself out on one foot while on unstable surface such as a bosu ball. Even a pillow on the floor will do. Such exercises improve balance, which many runners neglect, and strengthen the muscles in the feet.
Train for downhill running
“Downhill running puts a lot of stress on your legs,” Fitzgerald says. “The impact forces are much greater and the quadriceps absorb the shock.” Plyometric exercises, also known as jump training can help prepare the muscles for it.
There is a specific technique to downhill running. “Runners are fearful of losing control,” he adds. “They lean back and clinch up. But it’s better to let yourself go and let gravity work with you.”
Avoid “jelly legs”
All the running up and down hills can make your legs feel like jelly. But you can easily avoid that tiring sensation. “You want to ease into it,” Fitzgerald says. “The body is always prepared for just a little more,” he adds. Start with short trails on different terrains and gradually increase the level of difficulty.