Tag Archives: trail running

5 Reasons to Try Trail Running

As spring gets closer so do many goal races.  After a tough winter training cycle and a hard race effort, ease back into summer base building with trail running.  Here are five good reasons to hit the dirt this spring, summer and fall.

Weather.  Warm weather can put a real damper on your desire to go out for a sweaty run.  Luckily, trail running provides one huge benefit lots of roads don’t.  Shade.  When things start to heat up trail runningoutdoors running early in the morning or at night is ideal.  Since that isn’t a possibility for everyone shaded dirt paths can give you some relief from baking sunlight and heat.  The trees can also protect you from rain drops and oftentimes a windy day.

Surface.  Roads, sidewalks and treadmills are hard.  They’re hard on knees, hips, ankles and sometimes, brains.  Getting off a man-made surface and onto some good old fashioned dirt for a little trail running will give your joints a break.  The softer surface can help protect you from injury while challenging you body to respond to something new.

Strength.  The same way dirt softens your landing and gives you beautiful scenery to look at, it helps make you stronger.  Balancing on trails as you traverse paths covered in leaves, roots, streams, holes and hills make you work harder.  Your core activates to keep you upright, your ankles and calves have to be more flexible and responsive and as your stride shortens to give you more security, you’ll land more on your mid-foot, protecting you from injury.

Fun.  Trail running forces you to spend time with nature.  You’ll see wildlife and jump over a few squirrels all with a smile on your face.  The slower pace gives you time to genuinely enjoy your surroundings without any of the pressure associated with a tough track workout.  Pushing your body to learn how to respond to the toughness trails present without worrying about how fast you’re going will be a big bonus when you get back on the road.

Accessories.  Trail running invites accessories.  For the fuel belt, water pack, trail shoe, energy gel, sunglasses, visor, shorts with pockets runner, trails are the spot for you.  With your next water source usually unknown, taking hydration with you is a must.  Try that new arm band for your phone and snap a few photos during your workout.  Since you’re out there having fun, don’t be afraid to try new things that could help you perform better in the future.

So head on out there and start trail running!  Changing your scenery and your pace is good for your body and your brain.

Coach Meredith

Proprioception: Become A Better Runner

Proprioception is a big scientific word but learning to love it it can help you become a better runner.  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Proprioception (n) as ‘the reception of stimuli produced within the organism’.  Dictionary.com give a slightly more friendly definition: perception governed by proprioceptors, as awareness of the position of one’s body.  Proprioceptors are sensors in all of our muscles and tendons that help control balance.  That second definition makes it pretty easy to see how improving our proprioception could help our running performance.  Better balance means after steps and the more aware we are of what, how and when our body is doing something, the more efficient we can become at responding to it.

Have you ever had an ankle injury?  Exercises to improve proprioception were probably part of your rehab plan.  Why?  Exercising the proprioceptors helps strengthen ankles and feet.  You never know what you’ll come across when you’re running, especially on trails and once we’re injured, the damaged proprioceptors have trouble functioning properly.  Failing to reteach them to work correctly can ultimately lead to more injuries on the same joint and new injuries on rocky, uneven or unpredictable terrain.  Unfortunately, injuries aren’t the only thing that gets in the way of hardworking proprioceptors.  Wearing shoes all the time takes our feet away from the ground, dulls our senses and makes us visually dominant.  Waiting for our eyes to see something and tell our brain what to do is a very slow process compared to an immediate response from the correct muscles.  A better response means better balance.

To test your proprioception, stand on one foot and close your eyes.  If you immediately start to wobble and put your other foot on the ground, it’s time to go to work.  Here are exercises to proprioceptionadd to your daily routine that will build better balance, improve proprioception and help you become a better runner.

Go barefoot as often as possible.  Take a few minutes each day to work on single leg balance exercises, progressing to do them with your eyes closed.  Eventually, add a balance board or a few BOSU balls.  Both are great additions to any workout collection.  The unstable surfaces challenge your body to respond quickly to what’s happening under your feet and are good tools for strengthening feet and ankles.  Once you can stay still for a period of time, try closing your eyes.  Eventually you can add ball tossing and other upper body exercises to the challenge.

Start practicing your proprioception today to feel stronger and safer on any running surface.

Coach Meredith

7 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

Trail running is a great way to enjoy the changing leaves, crisp air and great outdoors this fall.  It’s also a little different from road running, requiring a different mindset, different muscles and a bit more time.  Here are seven tips from Team FitNice to help your trail trail runningrunning program get started in the right direction.

Accessorize.  Make sure you’re prepared for a trail running workout with trail shoes, sunblock, a hat, sunglasses and bug spray.  You can also check out running gaiters.  These fashion accessories help keep your ankles and feet safe from stones, sticks and other trail debris while you’re out enjoying nature.

Work on your core.  Running on uneven ground challenges your balance.  The muscles of your core, abs, obliques, lower back, are what help you stay on your feet.  The stronger they are, the more stable you’ll be and that means less likelihood of injury.  Practice balance and core strengthening exercises regularly to help your trail running performance.

Leave extra time.  You’ll be looking for the path of least resistance, rather than the shortest route from Point A to Point B on the trails and that might mean switchbacks or taking the long way around.  Run for time, rather than distance until you’re familiar with different paths and the difficulties they each ask you to face.

Start slowly.  Trails are different than roads or treadmills.  They’re uneven, inconsistent and tougher on ankles and feet.  Adjust to trail running with runs short than you’d do on the road and build up trail runningover a few weeks until you feel 100% comfortable.

Keep going slowly.  With dirt paths, roots to watch out for and lots of other potential obstacles, trail running requires more effort then road running.  Slow down and run by effort rather than pace, even if it means walking uphills in the beginning.

Stay safe.  Consider head lamps, pepper spray and reflective gear.  Always be sure to take an ID, tell someone where you’re planning on going and when to expect you back.  If you can, take your cell phone or a map and be aware of what’s going on around you at all times.  Knowing the rules of the trail, such as yielding to downhill runners, equestrians and cyclists as well as staying on marked trails and running through, not around, puddles will all help you get home safely.

Bring fluids.  Trail running can be unpredictable.  Mud, rain, snow and streams all have the potential to make your run a little more hazardous, making the time it takes you to finish hard to determine.  The last thing you want to do is run out of water, so wear or stash it.  If your route crosses parking lots or picnic areas, drop a water bottle off before you start to run.  You can also use handheld water bottles, mini-bottle waist belts or a hydration pack to make sure you don’t get thirsty.

With these tips, the trail running portion of your workout is sure to be fun, safe and good for you.

Have questions about trail running?  Ask us!  Email Info@FitNicePT.com or fill out the form below.