Updated: May 19
Highway driving is different from off-roading. The same holds true for running on a paved surface and trail running.
Working a wide range of muscles
The terrain is irregular and softer out on the trails. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Your stride will need to vary with almost every step. Trail running requires a lot more work for the ankles and quads, especially if you choose to run on some of our more hilly trails. However, the softer terrain is much more forgiving on our joints than the hard pavement.
Regular running shoes are not ideal for trail running. Road shoes are designed to absorb. On the trail you need something more stable and with a more aggressive sole to avoid slipping on wet terrain. You need to make a few adjustments in your technique to maximize your experience.
Pump your arms like a sprinter to give yourself momentum. Favour shorter fast strides. Lift up your feet to avoid tripping. Run when you can, change to a power walk when it becomes too steep. Don’t burn all your energy at the start of a hill: pace and keep some energy, and listen to your heart rate.
Shorten your stride to better react and manoeuvre around rocks and roots. Hold your arms to your side to help maintain balance. Land on the front of your foot. Stay focused. Do not let your mind wander. Keep your eyes on where your foot is going to land next.
Adjust your expectations
Modify the time allowed for your run. Forget your pace and speed. You will not be able to cover a 5K on the trail in the same amount of time you can on the road. You can’t zone out, but you can get in the zone.