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Off-road running is more than just a great cardio workout. When you take to the trail,
you also hone your agility and strengthen your core, says
Mike Finch editor of
Adapt your legs
A trail’s roots, rocks and undulations can be tough on your lower body if you’re not used to off-road conditions. Work on foot speed (add a few minutes of rope jumping to your workout), climbing strength (take a few flights of steps on your next run) and ankle strength (trace the alphabet with your toes at your desk).
Support your feet
Your regular running shoes don’t offer the full protection or support you need to tackle tougher terrain. Instead, seek out a pair of low-profile trail-running shoes that have solid outsole traction and a bone-and-bruise protection plate.
Map your path
If a trail takes two hours to hike, it’ll probably take about an hour to run. If you’re relatively new to the sport, start gradually with a 20-minute outing and max out
at 60 minutes for longer runs. To find routes and see what others are up to check out, trailrunning.co.za or
Runners World. If a route is good to hike, it’s probably great for a trail run too.
Blaze through the trail
Fix your eyes nine to 3.5m down the path to spot obstacles so you can adjust your stride to avoid them. Don’t slow dramatically on descents; you’ll lean back, risking a wipeout. Lean forward slightly and strike with your forefoot in short strides to control speed. Uphill climb? Gear down and walk to save energy.