Once you have reached your stride, you may find a need to spice up your training to fuel your motivation levels. We’ve discussed the merits of running outdoors; exposing yourself to the added physical benefits of Vitamin D and the mood boost of Mother Nature. And don’t forget, spring is right around the corner!
– Running on unyielding surfaces such as concrete or asphalt is considered by many to be significantly tougher on the joints of the lower extremity. Although some of the research on this varies, I can share that anecdotally many runners who complain of general knee pain feel better when running on dirt.
– It may seem simplistic, but the best way to avoid or recover from repetitive motion injuries is to not repeat the exact same movement over and over again. In a trail run, virtually no two steps will be using your muscles and tendons in the same manner. Vive la différence!
– Likewise, similar to cross training, you will be working your joint proprioceptors (they signal the nervous system as to each joint’s placement which aids in balance and coordination) and various muscle groups in different ways (shortening vs. lengthening contractions). A well-rounded runner is a healthy one.
– Minimal traffic.
– Ideal training “ground” for trail races.
– The psychological benefits of becoming one with nature are many and well-documented.
– Uncertainty of the terrain can be difficult to anticipate and negotiate. To avoid twisted ankles or face plants, increase your mindfulness while running.
– If your particular trail is unmarked, you will have to use a device/app to monitor distance and location. Always bring a phone with you (or a running buddy), just in case of emergencies.
– Be prepared for uphill/downhill running; adjust your pace and distance if necessary, as this will tax your cardiovascular system and soft tissues more than you may be accustomed to.
Unsure of where to begin? Contact your local running club or parks department for trails near you.
Top PT Tip: use these techniques to negotiate hazards on the trail:
|Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run- The Big Bad Wolf minds the mud puddles.|
Mud puddles, icy patches, rocks, tree stumps can come upon you quickly out on the trail. (And there won’t always be yellow cones as markers.) I must say that I saw more than one runner down during September’s Disney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, and immediately wished I could have shared these tips with them!
– As mentioned above, trail running requires an extra dose of alertness. Be prepared for sudden changes in terrain.
– How do you instantly increase your balance and stability? The best and fastest accommodation is to lower your center of gravity. Be sure your knees are bent (these are, after all, your body’s shock absorbers), and widen your stance.
– Shorten your stride.
Think of the drills you’ve seen football linebackers do. Be fleet of feet and sharp of mind! Use these techniques and you’ll be sure to stay upright during your next trail run. Happy, healthy trails!
Phase One of Train Like a Princess is complete. Stay tuned for Phase Two: Training Tools; foam rolling, self-massagers, kinesiology taping, pain relieving gels/creams and compression garments.
Train Like a Princess and keep in step with other Top PT Tips!!