27 Jun Trail running invigorates the body and mind
Are you looking to change up your workout and breathe some new energy into your exercise program?
One of the fastest growing and most fun sports is trail running.
Say good-bye to cars, city noises and the urban jungle in general and hello to an exhilarating run through the woods.
Not only will you get a great workout, you’ll also get an unbelievable mental release through trail running.
Almost all of us have an instinctive need to be closer to nature – called “biophilia” by scientists.
This longing to be one with nature is certainly realized through trail running, which improves leg strength, the cardiovascular system, coordination and body awareness.
Whether you simply want to run on a trail for exercise and conditioning, or enter a race, trail running can offer something for everyone. Maybe you don’t even run much or at all anymore – then find out where some good trails are in your area and try to walk them briskly.
How to train for trail running
Like anything worth achieving, trail running takes practice.
There are 5K races (3.1 miles), 5-milers, 10-milers and farther – even up to 100K ultra-marathons.
Many courses loop through city parks and into wooded nature trails. If you enter or watch one of these races, you’ll see both men and women competing.
Even if you’re a good road runner, it will take some time to get used to the trails.
Total-body fitness is needed, along with good form and knowledge of the course you’ll be running at. Know where you can let if fly and also where you’ll have to be very careful with your footwork so as not to go tumbling head over heels after tripping on a giant tree root.
“Three months before your first race — after buying a good pair of trail shoes — try to spend two training sessions per week running off-road.
If you’ve never been a trail runner, you’ll notice some differences immediately. A trail surface is never perfectly smooth, so you can’t run with a perfect stride. A trail invariably undulates, which makes it harder to find a running rhythm. A trail has low branches and overgrown bushes, which means constant ducking and dodging.
At first, these differences can make trail running seem exhausting. There’s much more lateral movement (as opposed to linear), which requires greater use of peripheral muscles around the ankles and hips and in the quadriceps and glutes. While you may feel tired after only a few minutes of trail running, time and practice will improve your stamina.
Among other things, you’ll be learning where to place your feet to avoid a fall, how to take turns more efficiently, which plants to dodge and which to brush harmlessly past. It’s running in a more primal fashion than many of us are used to.”
In addition to running on the trails make sure to cross train by continuing to run on your usual road, track and-or treadmill.
Work in strength training with weights, exercise bike and-or elliptical machine. Squats, lunges, deadlifts, hamstring curls, and calf raises will help the most.
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 email@example.com