From perfecting your technique to choosing the right shoes.
While the closure of gyms and sports halls during the pandemic has disrupted many workouts, it has also encouraged many of us to take up running, and not just on the road.
Running is indeed an inexpensive way to reduce stress and anxiety levels and to continue exercising while maintaining social distancing. Trail running, in particular, is about getting away from it all and exploring nature, and it’s good to see that trail running has become more popular than ever.
Hillary Allen, North Face ultra-marathon runner, believes her sport’s recent surge in popularity is also due to its simplicity. “All you need is a good pair of shoes and you can immerse yourself in nature,” she explains. “It’s a magical experience to be propelled up a mountain by your own power and it’s great fun to see where your two feet can take you. »
Whether you’re new to trail running or an experienced off-road runner, there are always new tips and tricks to learn, whether it’s changing up your technique or investing in a specialist tech kit. to help you get the most out of your run.
1. Walk on the slopes
Although in the trail world it’s called hiking, walking on the steepest slopes is more than acceptable; in fact, it is an actively encouraged practice. Often times, it’s more efficient to walk the steeper slopes than trying to climb them, especially when you add in other factors like high altitude, heat, and rough terrain.
Ignore the watch when it comes to hills. Slow down and focus on the effort rather than trying to follow your “road pace” – your legs will thank you.
2. Stick to the trail
One of the joys of trail running is the variety of terrain. You can run on grass, sand, muddy swamps, rocks, or a mix of all of these. For smooth, forward motion, you want shoes with enough traction to withstand the toughest trails, without compromising on speed and flexibility.
To meet this challenge, The North Face has developed the Flight VECTIV™ premium trail shoe. The Flight brings carbon fiber and composite plate technologies to the trails, as attested by The North Face runner and 2020 Transgrancanaria Women’s Trail Race Champion Kaytlyn Gerbin. and high performance, and the aerodynamic upper keeps the shoe light,” she points out.
3. Increase your strength
Strength training for trail runners is a must, as you will be using different muscle groups than road running. On the trails, you need to be prepared to change direction quickly, jump over fallen trees, and adapt your stride to changes underfoot.
For this reason, exercises that work the stabilizer muscles and core of your legs should be part of your training, especially for runners in their late twenties who are more at risk of injury.
Hillary Allen recommends a good single leg squat. “You need a lot of control to do it right and it’s especially suited to trail running, which requires a lot of one-leg stability,” she explains.
4. Descend with ease
You master your technique on the way up, but being strong on the way down is also a necessary skill.
You may have heard riders say their quads get “worn out” from descents, but a small change in technique – simply shortening your stride – can help moderate some of that fatigue from impact.
Pau Capell, runner for The North Face and winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in 2019, knows the importance of downhill racing and is a fan of the Flight VECTIV™. “It feels fast, but also offers real stability and grip on the descents, and those are the times that make all the difference,” he says.
Studies on the Flight VECTIV™ have shown that the shoe decreases tibial impact on descents by 10%, allowing for increased mileage without worsening impact on the legs.
5. Prepare for the incredible
For many, trail running isn’t just about logging miles, it also appeals to a sense of adventure and exploration. You will often be in remote areas, some distance from the nearest road, which means it is important to be self-sufficient.
Before you set off, let someone know your route and take your phone (fully charged) with you so you can call for help or use the map function if you run into trouble. For long runs, make sure you have plenty of food and water and (especially on short winter days) take a headlamp with you.
With the right equipment and the right preparation, all you have to do is enjoy it.