Race-day tips for trail running

On race day be ready to adjust to a variety of types of terrain when trail running.
If you encounter sand, look for the firmest ground. This may be a rare time when you don’t run in a straight line in a race, instead, search for the hardest-packed sand, which may be on the edges.
Mud can be the most difficult terrain to run through. Avoid mud that looks shiny because it will be most slippy and tend to stick to your shoes more.
If the mud appears to have a more dull color, it should be a bit faster to run on and firmer for footing.
Rocky terrain is reason to focus as much as anywhere. Avoid loose stones and run with a higher leg lift to avoid tripping. Be light on your feet and extremely careful where you land to avoid suffering an ankle injury.
When entering wooded areas, be careful on the paths for tripping hazards such as tree roots, rocks and holes, all of which can sometimes be hidden by leaves.
To help with the above-mentioned terrain differences, trail running shoes are highly recommended. The ones used in high school and college cross country can do the trick, or you can get shoes with even stronger support.
Get shoes that are light enough for racing, but also have slots for adjustable spikes.
In a trail race, it’s often best to start slowly and build up. Don’t waste a lot of energy early trying to beat the pack into a skinny trail opening.
Find a comfortable pace as the race goes on. One of the best places to pass opponents is coming out of turns. They will lose track of you and you can spring by them in an instant.
Just remember to have fun and use your instincts. Whether you’re racing, or just getting a brisk trail run workout, running through the woods is one of the most fun ways to cross train there is.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com

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