Hone your tech­nique

Once you leave the pave­ment, it’s less sim­ple than left foot, right foot. Here’s how to change your move­ment from the ground up

Men's Fitness - - Features -

Give your feet time to ad­just

“The big­gest mis­take I see peo­ple mak­ing is mak­ing a com­plete switch sud­denly,” says Dr An­drew Murray, an ul­tra­run­ner and con­sul­tant in sport and ex­er­cise at the Uni­ver­sity of Ed­in­burgh. “Around 85% of run­ning in­juries are due to train­ing er­ror. This can be do­ing too much too soon – in­creas­ing vol­ume by more than an av­er­age of 1015% each week – or it can be by com­pletely chang­ing the ter­rain you’re run­ning on. I’d ad­vise mak­ing any change a grad­ual tran­si­tion – start with a three-miler [5K], and in­crease your vol­ume grad­u­ally.”

Run re­laxed

You’re bound to be tense at first, and it messes up your run­ning. “Run­ning re­laxed can en­hance your lower body’s nat­u­ral sus­pen­sion sys­tem,” trail and ul­tra vet­eran Ge­orge An­der­son. “But it takes con­scious ef­fort to over­come the de­sire to stiffen the joints.” Check in with your­self ev­ery few hun­dred me­tres, and note when you’re stiff­en­ing up.

Use your arms

They’re an af­ter­thought on the road, but cru­cial for ef­fi­ciency on the trail. “Us­ing your arms for bal­ance is key,” says au­thor and trail run­ner To­bias Mews. “Keep your arms – or at least your el­bows – a lit­tle bit wider for added bal­ance on more tech­ni­cal trails. You might need also need to lift your feet a lit­tle higher.”

…and your eyes

“Trails, by their very na­ture, are lit­tered with haz­ards - stones, roots, drop-offs, scree, mud, sand and so on – which means that your senses need to be fully func­tional,” says Mews. “It helps not to be too ob­sessed with look­ing at your feet. Fo­cus on look­ing a me­tre or so ahead to work out where you’re go­ing to go for the next few strides.” Soon it’ll be­come sec­ond na­ture.

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