What is Technical Trail Running?

As a runner, I love hitting the trails, and there’s something about running through nature that just makes me feel alive. But sometimes, the trails can be a bit too technical for my taste, and that’s when I turn to technical trail running.

What is Technical Trail Running

In this blog post, I’m going to answer the question: “What is technical trail running?” I will also share with you the benefits of this running, as well as some tips on how to get started.

Also Read: What is Pace in Running? A Quick Guide

So, What is a Technical Trail Running?

Essentially, it’s a type of off-road running that takes place on trails that are often not well-maintained. This can include running on trails with obstacles like roots, rocks, mud, or anything else that might make the run more challenging.

Because of this reason, technical trail running often requires a higher level of fitness and stamina, as well as specialized equipment, like trail shoes with extra grip or a GPS smartwatch to help you navigate.

Even though I started running to lose weight initially, I later realized there are many benefits and fun in trail running rather than running on the same park or treadmill daily.

But it takes me about 6-months to try technical trail running because I need to ensure that I am well prepared and fit enough to do it. My first trail running was Sawmill Valley Creek Trail, Toronto, Canada, and it was simply amazing.

This trail route includes waterfalls, wooden bridges, soil, and natural pools, making the run even more fun and technically challenging.

The Benefits of Technical Trail Tunning.

Now let us have a quick look into the benefits of trail running compared to the other types of running.

1. Injury prevention

When you run on trails, your feet land in different positions each time. This constant change in footing helps strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles, which can help prevent injuries.

With that said, these constant changes in the footfall can also cause you injuries if you are not prepared to face them. 

2. Muscle-strengthening

Trail Running requires you to use more muscles than running on a flat, paved surface, which helps strengthen your leg muscles and the muscles in your core and upper body.

3. Improved Balance and Coordination

Because trail running is more challenging than other types of running, it can help to improve your balance and coordination. This can transfer over to other activities and sports, making your overall physical performance better.

4. Mental Benefits

In addition to the physical benefits, trail running can also have positive mental effects. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and improve moods, and the challenges of trail running can help boost confidence and self-esteem. 

This is mainly because your brain needs to work harder due to the changing terrain, which allows your brain to forget stress and tensions from your everyday life.

5. Cardiovascular Benefits

Like any type of running, trail running can help to improve your cardiovascular health. This includes a decrease in blood pressure, an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and a decrease in harmful cholesterol levels. This decreases the risk for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.

6. Weight Loss

I started to run because I wanted to lose weight and get in better shape. I began with walking first and then intermittent jogging. I was taking special care not to overdo it because I didn’t want to injure myself. After a while, I was able to increase my running pace and distance. And now, I can run 5 kilometers without stopping.

As you know, running itself burns more calories and fat, but since trail running is more challenging than other types of running, it can help you to burn more calories and lose weight.

7. Improved Breathing

Running helps increase your lung function and enables you to breathe more efficiently. This is because running helps strengthen the muscles used for breathing and increases the capacity of your lungs.

8. Social Benefits

Running also helps you meet new people and make friends, especially if you join a running club or group. There are also many running events that you can participate in, such as races and marathons. These events can be a great way to socialize and have fun while getting some exercise.

If you are new to running and have a smartwatch or fitness tracker from Garmin or Fitbit, you can get access to their running community and where you can find genuine and like-minded people to connect with.

Technical Trail Running TipsĀ 

So, if you’re thinking about giving technical trail running a try, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Make sure you’re physically prepared:

As I mentioned before, technical trail running can be quite demanding on your body, so it’s essential to ensure you’re physically prepared before tackling any trails. This means being able to run long distances and being comfortable with running on uneven terrain.

If you’re not quite there yet, start by gradually increasing your mileage and adding some hill work to your training. Once you have enough confidence that you can handle a longer, more challenging run, you can start exploring some of the trails in your area.

2. Invest in the right equipment:

What is Technical Trail Running

The right equipment is essential for running, but it’s especially important for technical trail running. The fall risk and injury are higher among trail runners, especially on uneven and unstable terrain.

study on trail runners found that 28.2% suffered from an injury or illness in the 12 months following a competition. So you must ensure you have the right trail running shoes and gear to protect yourself. For extra protection, you can have a smartwatch with fall detection or a personal locator beacon (PLB) to help rescuers find you if you get lost or injured.

Your running shoes should have a good grip and support to protect your feet from the uneven surface of the trail. Choosing a shoe with good drainage is also essential so that your feet don’t get wet if you step in a puddle or run through a stream.

Other important trail running accessories include a headlamp, a water bottle, and a first-aid kit. A headlamp is essential for early morning or evening runs. And a water bottle is a must-have to stay hydrated on the trail. So, with the proper preparation and equipment, you’ll be able to tackle anything that comes your way.

3. Start slow and progress gradually:

If you’re new to technical trail running, starting slow and progressing gradually is essential. There’s no need to try and tackle the most challenging trails right away.

Instead, start with some easier trails and work your way up as you build confidence and experience. Once you have mastered the basics of trail running, you can begin exploring some of the more challenging courses in your area.

Many trails running dictionaries like Trailrunproject.com help you find trail running routes near you. Further, they have also classified different courses based on their difficulty level, such as easy, moderate, difficult, and very difficult. This helps you find the right trail based on your skill level and gives you an idea of what to expect.

4. Be Prepared for Anything:

One of the best things about trail running is that you never quite know what to expect. The weather can change quickly, the terrain can be more challenging than anticipated, and you might even come across some wildlife.

That is why it is crucial to be well prepared for anything when you’re out on the trail. Make sure you have the right tools, equipment, and know-how to use it. And always be aware of your surroundings on the trail, so you can react quickly if something unexpected happens.

I encountered many challenges during my technical trail run in Yellowstone National Park. The weather was hot and sunny, then cold and windy the next. The trail was full of rocks and roots, making it challenging to keep my footing. And at one point, I even came across some wildlife!

Fortunately, I was prepared for all of these obstacles. I had the right equipment, and I knew how to use it. And because I was always aware of my surroundings, I was able to react quickly and safely to everything that came my way.

5. Be aware of the Weather

The weather can be a major factor when you are running on a trail. If it is too hot, you can overheat and get dehydration quickly; if it is too cold, you might get hypothermia. So always make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out to the trail.

If you are running in a remote area with no mobile connectivity, make sure to carry a smartwatch with ABC Sensors that alert you of changes in the weather.

If you’re thinking of embarking on a technical trail run, just remember to be prepared for anything. With the right mindset and the proper outdoor running gear, you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way.

6. Look at your Foot

When we run in a park or road, we tend to look ahead of us. However, when you run on a technical trail, you must focus on your feet and where they are landing to avoid tripping over rocks or roots. So always keep your eye on your footfalls while running on a trail.

7. Increase your Lower Body Strength 

It would help increase your lower body strength to run on technical trails since you will constantly be lifting your legs higher to clear obstacles. To increase your lower body strength, try doing some exercises such as squats, lunges, and calf raises. You can also try running uphill to build up your leg muscles.

8. Have Fun and be Safe

Above all, remember to have some fun and be safe when technical trail running. This is a great way to explore the outdoors, get some exercise, and clear your mind. Going as a group for trail running is a good idea as it is always safer and more fun to run with friends.

If you are running alone, make sure that you have the necessary equipment for navigation and emergency. And always someone(family or friends) knows where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Apple and Garmin watches have security features such as fall detection and emergency SOS. In case of a bad fall or emergency, you can use these features to get help.

Additionally, many running apps such as MapMyRun and Strava allow you to share your live location while you’re out on the run. Even you can use WhatsApp to share your live location with friends and family.

9. Choose the right clothing

As with any sport, wearing the right clothing for trail running is critical. This includes loose-fitting clothes that won’t restrict your movement and shoes that have good grip and support.

It is also important to choose clothing based on the weather conditions. If it is cold, you’ll want to wear layers of clothing that you can peel off as you warm up. And if it is hot, you’ll want to wear light-colored and breathable fabrics to help keep you cool.

Conclusion

Now you know what technical trail running is, its benefits, and what to remember before going for a trial run. So, it is essential to be well prepared before going for a technical trail run. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll have a safe and enjoyable experience.

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