Top 7 Tips to Prepare for Your First Trail Running Event
This year I have decided to challenge myself and take up trail running.
Like most starting a new activity I didn’t know what to expect.
Running trails is very different to running on roads, I was naive about how challenging trail running was and how much more load it places on your body. As a Podiatrist, I understand how trail running can affect your feet and legs differently compared to road or treadmill running.
So from my experience and many mistakes in training up to my first event; here are my top 7 tips to prepare you better than what I did for your first trail running event.
1. Have a Training Plan
At first, I was slack at having a plan written down which meant that some days when I was supposed to train I made excuses like “I couldn't be bothered” or “I will do double tomorrow”.
I understand that some days you may miss training due to the poor weather or feeling ill, however; having a training plan which includes an incremental running program and strengthening program is vitally important to make you accountable for your training and avoiding over or under training.
2. Incorporate Strength and Balance Training
My ankles, calves and hips all took a lot of pressure during my trail run. Strength and balance training is crucial to maintaining good running technique and reduce your risk of injury, especially during the later stages of your event. High-intensity exercises such as step-ups, plyometric jumps and hops as well as single-leg balance exercises on a balance bubble can help you prepare your body for the uneven terrain that you will encounter.
Our Podiatrists can help you with your strength training program and to focus on improving your ankle stability and power through your calves, quads and glutes.
3. Invest in Trail Shoes
Trails can be unpredictable, often being muddy and wet. Investing in a pair of trail shoes is important. Trail shoes are heavier and more durable with an aggressive tread to protect against the uneven terrain you will encounter. After your trail run, it is important to look after your trail shoes by removing the insoles, washing the mud off and allowing them to air dry.
There are many different types of trail shoes on the market and our Podiatrists can recommend a certain type which best suits you based on their assessment on you.
4. Go for Practice Runs on Trails
Training your body specifically for the activity and environment that you will face on the day of the event is vital. Professional cyclists don't prepare for the Tour de France by swimming in the pool for 3 hours per day and doing heaps of bicep curls. The unpredictable terrain places completely different loads on your body compared to road running, therefore gradually building in some trail runs into your training program is an important step in preparation for your trail running event.
5. Don't Forget your Recovery
I find one big mistake that we often make (myself included) is going out too hard too early on in your training program. Trail runs tax your body more than normal road running, therefore, adequate recovery is a necessary component of your training program to help prevent injury. Adding swimming, bike riding or stretching into your weekly training program can help allow your body to recover while still keeping active.
6. Take the Correct Gear
Trail runs are often located in more secluded areas away from cities, therefore, it is important to take water, wear a hat, sunglasses, sunblock and take your mobile phone in case of emergency; especially on longer runs or routes that you haven't run before. Using an app with a GPS map on your phone with the trail route loaded is a great way to stop you from getting lost or taking a wrong turn.
7. Stay Focused During Your Run
Often a rock, fallen tree branch or steep decline slope can catch you unaware leading to a twisted ankle or fall. Always be one step ahead of the terrain and look a few steps in front of you to know exactly where you are placing your foot to avoid injury.
Trail running is a great way to challenge yourself while getting out and enjoying what nature has to offer.
If you find pain or foot and ankle problems are stopping you from reaching your goals or want some more advice on how to properly prepare for an event, call complete Podiatry now on 8330 0004 or book an appointment online now.
I'm so confident we can help you that I'd love to chat with you personally about your trail running, it's what I'm passionate about!
Yours in helping build amazing lives from the feet up.
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry