Friday, November 8, 2013

Common Trail Running Mistakes

After running three road marathons and one half marathon this year, I've been thinking about doing some trail running. But before heading out on the trails, I came across some common mistakes that road runners make when they hit the trails. Here's what you need to do to combat those mistakes.

  1. Rather than go all out for a technical trail right away, start on easy trails like the fairly flat one I ran on in Scotland's Hazelhead Park (photo) while on vacation. Once you feel comfortable with the smooth trails, move on to technical trails with some rocks and roots. 
  2. Shorten your stride. It may feel strange at first, but it will cause less of an impact on your body. 
  3. Relax! If you run while tense, you're more likely to fall. Remind yourself to relax at each mile or water break.

Thinking about trail running makes me think about trail races. If I run one, I'll pick one that takes place at nearby Huntsville State Park (Texas) where I've run a couple of races including a half marathon - one of my favorite races. 

When I started trail running, I was surprised by my trouble with the roots on the trails. They may not look like much at first, but after hopping over them for miles, they're tough to run over without falling or stubbing your toe. If you've been trail running, is there something that surprised you about it? 

24 comments:

  1. I was surprised by how much harder trail running is, and how much more fun. I've definitely found that my confidence on uneven terrain, rocks, roots, etc grows with practice. You almost get a sixth sense about footing. Now that I said that, I'm sure to go down hard during Sunday's trail race.

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    1. Wishing you a fall-free race and lots of fun!

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  2. Looking forward to doing more on the trails this year myself....love it.

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    1. Just checked your blog and saw that you're going to be running a 50 mile race. Amazing!

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  3. Trail running is so much fun - I'm glad you like it too! I'm sure the softer variable ground will be good for your leg.
    Once I tripped on a root and ended up flat on my face - ouch! Later I learned from a coach to circle the ankles while running, so the feet are automatically picked up - it helps!
    I have a couple of trail races coming up - so excited!

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    1. Sounds like you didn't waste any time planning another race after your recent half marathon!

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  4. I've experienced the same challenges you note! After many miles, the roots & rocks start to feel like mountains themselves! As I prepared for my ultra last year, I also usually feel different leg muscles after a long trail run. Have fun!!

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    1. Sure was fun reading your recent post! You've been doing an awesome job pacing runners in the marathon and for a trail race, too!

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  5. Great tips! I enjoy trail running, but I do worry about falling, especially after my last fall resulted in a broken hand!

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    1. I understand that! I'm afraid of hitting my foot on a root again - the reason I couldn't finish the 50K I started.

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  6. You forgot "watch your step" aka "don't trip"

    I learned this the hard way. lol

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    1. Oh, I know! On trails, I have to remind myself to look up and enjoy the scenery because that's why I'm there, but I've got to watch my step, too. Makes it a challenge!

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  7. I LOVE trail running, it's so calming and relaxing. I always tell myself to run more trails, but it's hard to find running buddies and I won't run trails alone. Never know if you trip and fall.

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    1. Trail running with someone else is the best!

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  8. When I started trail running I was surprised by how much more I had to focus on where I was going! After my first few bad falls from tripping over roots I got a lot more accustomed to paying attention to where I was placing my feet. The other big adjustment for me was realizing that on a trail you just can't worry about your pace in the way you can on the roads. Every trail is different, and so the concept of trying to always hit XYZ pace just doesn't make sense. And in some ways I think that is good - makes it more relaxing!

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    1. I did a little trail running today and would have fallen if I hadn't been paying attention to the trail. Since I was running with my dog, I had to think about where she was running on the path, too, so we wouldn't collide!

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  9. Trail running is my favorite thing ever. Well my favorite WORKOUT thing ever. Glad you are able to go!

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  10. This post and that beautiful picture make me want to go on a trail run! I love trail running, but I don't do it it too often. I agree with you about the roots though....I always make sure to look where I'm going. Sometimes I just get lost in the moment and beautiful scenery though! ;-)

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  11. I've only run on paved trails so far, but I think that running on a real trail would be a lot of fun. I am a bit clumsy though, so I I don't know if that would be a good idea or not. Lol! Although, I don't know if that would hurt any worse than concrete. Not that I would know anything about that. ;)

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  12. I was surprised out how often I almost stumble and fall. It hurts my ankles way more than running on flat surfaces.

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  13. We only have partially paved trails by us but they are kept clear because they are common walk ways. I would love to try a technical trail.

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  14. I live a few miles outside of Manhattan - trails are not too be found in these parts! I have to go to other blogger sites to see what they're supposed to look like (LOL)

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  15. Good info! I too had to figure out a lot of this when I started running trails. It is surprising how much of a difference it is training and preparing for trails verses roads. I find that it can be difficult to try and be good at both at the same time but I still have plenty to figure out.

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  16. I'm itching to do more trail running it's just that I can't find any friends to tag along with that fit my schedule. Running on trails is definitely much harder but so much more fun too!

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I love reading comments! I'll post your comment when I get back from my run so please don't worry if your comment doesn't show up right away.

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