With Spring comes some of the most surreal experiences one can have. Fresh air, cool breeze, warm sun spots, soft ground, new colors and an appreciation for seasons. So will you be hitting the trail, instead of the pavement?
Whether I hit Southern Maine, Lake Regions, Franconia, Loon Mountain, Cannon Mountain, Nashoba Valley, Cape Cod, Boston Burbs... you can get your fix for the nature and peace and tranquility of running thru the woods or on the beach paths.
Now Running on Pavement v. Trail can be quite different besides the obvious, uneven ground all around you. So let us go over some points that may go by the wayside.
For Starters... Everyone can run a trail and have fun. By no means do you need to think "well I can't hang". Just get out there!
That ideal form is not just genetic, though it does have genetic components. By practicing form every day on your run, you can improve. And by improving your form, you can improve your running economy for the long haul. Let’s start from the feet and work up.
While footfall is mostly passive, stride dynamics are an active set of choices you can make every day you go out on a run. Let’s start with the general and work toward the specific using a three step strat.
First, your strides should generally be soft, which usually means your form is more efficient. Listen to your footfall when running. Does it sound like a light pitter patter, or like a person playing the drums too loud? Ideally, you are quiet enough that you can sneak up on people like a ninja without them knowing you are there.
Second, your strides should be quick, which distributes load more efficiently over the course of a run. Often, it feels a bit unnatural at first, especially for people with a background in sports that involve sprinting. As a sprinter, you learn to practice long, powerful strides. As a trail runner, you want short, rapid strides.
Third, you should learn to target a running cadence that works best for you. There is no right answer for this. Most elite runners are around 180 strides per minute, and almost all successful runners are above 170 strides.
While there is no right answer, most trail runners would be well-served to practice a soft, quick stride that is at least 170 strides per minute. A way to measure your stride rate is to count how many times your right leg hits the ground in 30 seconds. Multiply that number by four for your stride rate.
Happy Spring Y'all!
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