The outdoors is your best gym. It’s free of charge, offers challenges and views at the same time, and is more accessible than your local weight room. In fact, while there were over 36,000 gyms recorded in the United States, there are more than 236,000 miles of trails between federal and state lands.
The outdoors is your best gym. It’s free of charge, offers
challenges and views at the same time, and is more accessible than your local
weight room. In fact, while there were over 36,000 gyms recorded in the
United States, there are more than 236,000 miles of trails between
federal and state lands.
So it’s time to brush the crusty, dried mud off those trail
shoes in the back of your closet for some great trail runs. But, staying
sprain-free is key if you want to make trail running your hobby, regular
conditioning, or weekly off-day.
Founder of Altra Running Golden Harper shares
his top tips to safely get the most of this cardio-coordination duo. If you
venture beyond the flat, boring rail trails to one of America’s best trails, you’ll run
into some tough terrain, tricky downhills, and butt-busting uphill sections.
Running on Tough Terrain
The first thing to
remember is how to efficiently navigate tough terrain. Here, Harper reminds us
to dial in good posture, keeping your hips and chest forward. Also, he
describes what makes a good stride: landing under a bent knee helps your joints
absorb impact and taking quick, short steps reduces your risk of injury.
Next, downhill sections can be trickier than they look from
above. Harper recommends a tall posture, one that doesn’t lean back. He also
provides three methods to apply to downhill trail running.
Slalom Steps: Much like how snow skiers wind
between poles, you want to follow a zig-zag stepping path when the trail gets
steep. This helps take pressure off your joints.
Stop Rocks: You can find these on most trails.
Look for a rock large enough to support your weight and the bottom surface of
your shoe. Step on it with one foot as you’re running if you need to dial down
Cut Steps: Here, you pivot your body about 45
degrees to one side for a few steps then switch to the other side for a few
steps. Continue alternating between sides as you run downhill to help protect
Of all the thousands of miles of trails out there, there’s
not a single one that doesn’t have an uphill. So here are a few things to bear
in mind as you tackle those trail sections: maintain a proud posture, pump your
elbows back to propel your body forward and upward, keep your gaze about ten
feet ahead, and take short, quick steps.