TRAIL RUNNING – Everything you need to know about trail running
»All runners can also be trail runners! Trail running isn’t for professionals only!«
Road runners often think trail running isn’t something they could do. They believe trail running is for experienced mountain runners only and that it’s all about scrambling and incredibly tough sections. But it’s not exactly like that. Trail runners aren’t some aliens, getting up at the middle of the night to catch a sunrise and make it to work before their boss does. They are, however, often viewed as aliens, who use special equipment for their run and aliens, who tackle usual two-day mountain tours in running shoes and in one afternoon.
But trail running is still just running! The only thing, separating trail and road running, is the terrain you run on. You can be one in the morning and other in the afternoon. There is no need to choose, you can be both or you can just drop the specifics and simply call yourself a runner!
Trail running isn’t just running on Mont Blanc and other world’s biggest mountains
Trail running aren’t just incredibly long multi-day tours
Trail running isn’t just night running.
To simply put it – trail running is running in nature!
Everyone can be a trail runner!
Every single runner who ever took a turn away from the main and well-cared for roads is a trail runner. We’d even go so far to say there are even more trail runners than there are road runners. Runners, who daily run around parks, woods or even on single trails definitely outnumber those, who stick to asphalt and asphalt only.
MORE THAN JUST RUNNING
Why? Because nature offers more than various roads. Simple as that. We may be a bit biased, but it’s just the way it is. Trail running has a way of getting under your skin. J When you feel those first morning sunrays, while catching a glimpse of stunning nature around you, all your senses sharpen. You connect with nature through running and get a better feel of your body and your surroundings. The main goal of running in nature is to forget about the numbers your watch is showing you and to just focus on the terrain. We hardly ever come back from running in nature feeling tired. Maybe physically, but somehow, we’re still filled up with that special energy.
WALKING IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF RUNNING
When terrain is flat enough, you run, once it gets too steep, you just walk. Yes, walk! You walk a lot and it’s still called trail running. Despite walking for a chunk of your route, you’re still happy and proud of yourself and all those vertical meters once you finish.
Don’t get us wrong – even we still like to tackle a fast road race, but trail running gives you something more. We noticed one main difference between the two – results have a secondary meaning at trail races. Runners don’t care whether they finish 50th or 500th. The latter might be even happier about their success than the winner, because they managed to reach that special goal of theirs.
GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT TRAIL RUNNING
Emotions can cloud our judgement when it comes to trail running. But to put our jokes aside, nature can give us quite some hurdles to tackle when attempting trail running, which is why trail running form is different than in road running. Terrain in nature varies, so the same happens to our running form. It isn’t constant as it is in road running, but our form varies with terrain.
Our steps aren’t always of the same distance, we sometimes have to jump over some rocks or roots, which is why we don’t look at our feet when running, but always try to keep our vision in line with the horizon.
The harder the terrain, the more we have to pay attention to our feet. We usually step on the mid part of our feet to create more traction and get a better grip. Our arms are important in running, but even more so in trail running. They help us balance, so they move in various directions and help us tackle different turns.
When we run uphill, our steps become even shorter and we land on the front side of our feet. This way we can take better advantage of elastic energy from our Achilles tendon. Moving legs only of course isn’t enough, our whole body has to cooperate. Arms are essential when running uphill, as they can help tremendously. What about those times when uphills are bigger than our running shape? When you can’t run, just walk!
Those are the times when we switch from trail running to walking. We put our hands on our knees and use them to push off with each step. Our view is focused to the front. Power walking technique takes some time to master, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be faster than many runners, who keep running even in steeper terrains – not only are they slower, but they’re also losing way more energy than power walkers.
There is a reward at the top of the hill – stunning views and one additional bonus: downhill! Downhills can be so much fun, but at the same time extremely dangerous and a big source of potential injuries. That’s why it’s important to think a few steps ahead and think about your steps and feet placement. Your steps should be shorter, and you should be landing on your whole feet, as this’ll help cushion all the blows that happen with running downhill, while offering safer and more stable steps at the same time. If we land on our whole feet, landing surface is bigger and therefore the chance of slipping is slimmer.
TRAIL RUNNING GEAR?
There is usually no need for a lot of extra gear when it comes to trail running. In the end, you can run barefoot if you want to, but quality gear can make sure your runs are better and most importantly safer. You can technically choose road running shoes for easier trail runs, but trail running shoes will feel better and safer due to their profile – especially when terrains get wet and slippery. Trail running shoes might feel more robust but offer much more safety for your feet – for example if you hit a rock or a root on your run. But don’t get us wrong – we’re still talking about running shoes and not hiking shoes!