Mentioning trail running to the uninitiated can sometimes conjure up images of mud, sweat and tears. And while, to some extent, all three may turn out to be true, the benefits of off-road driving far outweigh these minor obstacles. Here, Run the Wild lead runner Mark Hadaway (you might remember his excellent motivational speech at last year's Christmas party or saw him train at Everyone Active) shares his thoughts on why you should make your way and go off-road.
Running on a trail simply means running off-road (or on the sidewalk). It can encompass anything from running around a grassy field, to walking along a towpath, to exploring local forests or battling mountainous terrain. Quite simply, it is about reconnecting with the great outdoors and getting away from the busy world of today.
Despite the fear that trail running can often arouse in people - the reasons we will talk about later - it really is an amazing way to get in shape physically and mentally.
Physical trail running offers fantastic training effects - more muscles are activated; agility, coordination and balance are challenged; and the aerobic system must constantly adapt to the surrounding terrain. Varying gait, kick and stride length also ensures less strain on individual joints - reducing the risk of repetitive injuries often associated with 'street pounding'.
Along with the physical, many studies also claim the benefits of trail running on mental health. Research has shown that nature-based physical activity can reduce anxiety and reduce stress while improving mental well-being. It can also help alleviate symptoms of depression.
So, is trail running for you? Yes, that's the simple answer - it's absolutely for everyone.
Perception is everything
But now for the 'less positive' news and the bit that brings us back to an often cynical take on trail running - yes, it can be muddy and it can be 'hard work'. However, perception is everything and seeing things a little differently can soon turn things around.
The beauty of trail running is that you can wake up your inner child - you can splash in puddles; you can run downhill as fast as your legs will carry you; and you can jump over obstacles (all with practice).
Plus, you can leave behind the usual pressures that we usually put on ourselves when running - distance, pace, and times turn insignificantly pale. You run when you want to run, you walk when it makes sense to walk. I would go so far as to suggest leaving the stopwatch at home regularly and immersing yourself in your surroundings - our Run the Wild slogan of `` Explore places, no races '' tells you all you need to know.
There's no denying that trail running can be a “shock” to the system, but the benefits far outweigh the obstacles. It can be a dirty job; it may seem difficult; and it takes practice, but all the mud, sweat, and tears are worth it when you're immersed in nature, putting one foot in front of the other on your favorite trail. There really is no better feeling. Oh, and there are so many well-marked paths around Berkhamsted that there's really no need to worry about getting lost (when in doubt there's always Google Maps - or even a REAL paper map - remember - you two ??).
About Run the Wild:
Since 2013, Run the Wild has been dedicated to providing incredible trail running adventures in the UK and the European Alps. Trail running is the ultimate quest for freedom, to feel alive and it's something that fascinates us. To find out more, visit: Run The Wild - The premier running holiday company in the UK and Europe
If you’ve never run before or you’ve had a long break from course, it can feel intimidating to get out there and hit the pavement. But if you get familiar with some basic information about course and follow a beginner’s schedule, you’ll be well on your way to starting a new course habit.
At your visit, share your course plan and goals with your doctor and have him/her assess your plan and any potential health issues. If you have had any previous injuries or issues, make sure your doctor is aware of them, and ask if he or she has any suggestions on how to prevent a recurrence.
Visit a specialty running store to get professionnel advice on buying the right running shoes. An expert at the store will look at your feet, watch you run, and make recommendations based on your foot type and course style. If you already have running shoes that you like, but you’ve had them for a while, you may still need to get new ones. Running in worn-out running shoes can also lead to injury. You should replace them every 300 to 400 miles.
Beyond course shoes, you don’t need much more than some comfortable exercise clothes to get started. If you’re course outdoors, make sure you follow some basic tips for how to dress for hot weather course and cold weather running, so you stay safe and comfortable.
As your résistance improves and you start running longer, you may want to invest in some technical fabric course clothes and other basic running gear, such as a running belt, good course socks, and a course hat. Some runners also like to have a course watch to track their times and distances.
Before you get started with course, get familiar with how to do the run/walk method. Most beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don’t have the résistance or sport to run for extended periods of time. The run/walk method involves running for a bermuda segment and then taking a walk break. As you continue with a run/walk program, the goal is to extend the amount of time you’re running and reduce your walking time. Of course, some runners find walk breaks to be so beneficial that they continue taking them even as their résistance and sport improves.
Before you start any course workout, though, you need to make sure you warm up properly. A good warm-up signals to your body that it will have to start sérieux soon. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run. Start your runs with a brisk walk, followed by very easy jogging for a few minutes. You can also do some warm-up exercises. Always end your workout with a slow five-minute jog or walk to cool down. The cool-down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to fall gradually.
Use your breathing as your guide when course. You should be able to carry on a conversation while course, and your breathing shouldn’t be heavy. Don’t worry about your pace per mile—if you can pass the ' talk test ' and speak in complete sentences without gasping for air, then you’re moving at the right speed.
Make sure you’re breathing in through your nose and mouth, and breathing out through your mouth. Proper breathing and taking deep belly breaths will help you avoid annoying side stitches, or cramps in the abdomen area.
Drink water at the end of your workouts to rehydrate. If it’s hot and humid, you should also drink some water ( about four to six ounces ) halfway through your workouts.
Post-run is a great time to stretch and work on improving your flexibility because your zones musculaires will be warmed up. It’s also a relaxing way to end a workout. Try some of these stretches that target particular areas that frequently get tight during and after course.