Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Trail..... fall for it, not on it!!

I have seen a lot of question on various forums about trail running and the “fall” factor as I like to call it. The question is always, how do you avoid falling while trail running? My answer to the question is…. You don’t….. Well of course you are saying to yourself now but that is preposterous and yes it is in a little way, I mean you are not preparing yourself to fall over the place while on the trail but what you do need to know what to do in case you do trip and even better how to train to better negotiate the trails so you have less chance of falling on the trail and more chance of falling for the trail!!
So question number 1: What to do when falling, so now you are thinking how the hek do I have enough time so decide what to do, well it is a quick decision, when I started running trail I always used to think it better to roll into a fall and in some cases even roll out of the fall, but with experience and time I have found the putting your hands out and just face planting has the best results, I find that I come out with less intrinsic injuries i.e. muscle pulls, twisted ankles or strains. I may come out with more extrinsic injuries, grazed hands, bleeding head etc….. but I come out of it with maybe a band aid and can get back to training asap, no breaks because of muscles been pulled or twisted ankles. Now as much as it is awesome to come out of the trail looking like you burrowed your way though it is better to stay on your feet ;-) so this brings us to question number 2: How do I make myself more steady on the trail? Well from my point of view, there are three basic things you need to do….1) Run on the trails, there is no better way to learn how to handle the trails better than to experience them and become more confident on them, running on the trails teaches your body to adapt to sudden changes and respond correctly, fast lefts and rights, quick ups and downs, uneven ground, your body needs to learn to run differently to the way you run on the road and as you tackle all these obstacles your body takes notes and you get more confident and able to handle them…. 2) Get fitter, the fitter and stronger you get the easier it is to stay up right, my first year of trail running was plagued with falls, I was relatively unfit for the trails and was running  as I would on the road, when I got tired the first thing that happened is I started dragging my feet, now scraping your feet on the tar is one thing, scraping them on the trail….. you are gonna see your ass, and I did on more than one occasion, don’t think that 10km on the road is 10km on the trail, yes in reality it is but on some trails you could equate to running double the distance on the road…… since I have got fit I run much better and fall much less, so the first two things, train on the trails and get fitter and stronger which of course involves, LSD, intervals (hills and track,) gym, basically all the normal stuff…… now for number 3) I invest in agility training, at my gym they have a boxing rail with a few bags suspended, I do drills where I move the bags and the zigzag between them, avoiding them, this exercise brings all sorts of new muscles into play. I also do ballistic jumps, they are amazing at activating those muscles that are used all the time on the trail, do ankle and foot strengthening workouts to, strong ankles are invaluable on the trail. 

On the trail, all of the above is useless if you don’t enjoy being there, you have to build the confidence, poise, assurance, coolness (Whatever you want to call it) on the trail and you will enjoy and exist in harmony for most of the time without it taking you out.

We have started a new group on Face Book called Trails Unlimited where we will tackle “need to know” stuff like this. Click on the link below and like the page and add your 2% to the site.
Trails Unlimited

Happy Trails!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Trail Series Pel…. INDABA

So….. What an end to the Gauteng Winter Trail Series 2011, lets summarise the conditions…….. Brrrrrrrr!! really it was quite chilli, I got there early just before 8am to find already some of my trail buddies beat me to the draw ;-) They were already there clutching their coffee, and if you don’t understand, to the runner and especially the trail runner out in the freezing cold middle of the bush, coffee is a life saver second to none, after catching up a little I made my way to the trail series counter and got me one of those cool trail series Climacool Ts. Met some other buds and hopped around for a good while before finally deciding that it was time for warm-up, we went and dressed down to our skimpies, or at least me ;-0 and got going. We did a 2.5km warm-up and then lined up at the start for the last of this series. Above the bustle of our chatter at the line we couldn’t hear much of what Owen was saying except for……10……5..4..3..2..1..Go, and we were off, now anyone that has done this race before will know about the really fast start and 2kms of downhill trail that follow, nothing technical, just jeep track but really nice to warm-up a little more and getting in to a rhythm, that is of course if you don’t get all caught up in the race at the front of the pack blasting it down to the bottom, as for me, I have learnt from past mistakes and cruised down just getting into a relaxed pace, though was caught off guard by my pace for the first Km which I thought was really relaxed, it turned out to be 3min35sec, the second one did not follow far behind at 3min48sec. Anyways, I stopped worrying about whether I was going too fast and put it down to training. I worked up the first hill and moved from the group that was on my heels, from that time on I was A for Away……. Well that is what I know now, but at the time, I just increased the pace when I could to keep the guys behind me off my heels. My training buddy Roger was one of them on my heels and he has just gotten stronger over the series and I was working to keep him behind me ;-) we have a healthy competition LOLOLOLOL.
So with the thought of the guys trailing me I ran hard and even tackled the technical parts with focus without missing a step and am glad to say I did not stumble or fall once, even over the slippery slate going down to the river, lots of hop skip and jumping without breaking my neck. The hardest parts of this race is the beach sand down by the Crocodile River and the steep rocky climbs at the end both I just gritted my teeth for, the last km as you come up from the rock climb is down and I just picked up the pace finished fast, my last km average was 3min22sec per Km, this race was my fastest of the series and turned out to be almost 4min faster than the exact same race in 2010. So what an awesome race and an awesome day, meeting up with all my trail friends and making plans for our trail running in the future, well done everyone. My results for this race are as follows: 14th Overall and 8th in the senior category - I also placed 6th in the Trail Series long course Championship.
I enjoyed this series as usual, for me it’s been out there and pushing my body to the outer limits that counts from the bitter races to the sweet victories, this is indeed the nature of the beast called trail running. This winter season was my goal, to drop times and even placing but that is never a constant but my times were better all around. So for the future of my training I will be doing longer races but Trail Series will always be a fixture and I will enjoy racing them.
This was an awesome series as usual thank you Owen, Tamaryn and all the rest of you that made sure we had an excellent series. I am looking forward to the Summer Series.

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