Do you FLOW over it or CRASH and BURN?
Running technical terrain can be a daunting prospect for many experienced trail runners, and a terrifying idea for beginners. However, what constitutes technical terrain will also differ markedly between experienced and novice trail runners so let’s provide a general picture of what we mean by technical terrain. Completion of races with technical terrain is immensely rewarding so don’t let your trepidations prevent you from starting.
Technical terrain describes trails that have obstacles to negotiate. Obstacles may include tree roots, steep sections, loose surfaces, rocky ground, mud; essentially anything that has a potential to impede your progress and requires considerable concentration on every foot placement to negotiate the trail without stumbling or falling. For novice trail runners this may mean slowing to a walk, whereas the more experienced athlete may just slow their pace. Now, let’s talk tactics.
As with any sport, trail running ability improves with practice. Practice leads to experience and development of your technique for dealing with different terrain types. Luckily for all of us this process can be shortened by researching the way good runners tackle terrain and incorporating that into our training. For example, the Trail and Ultra running website produces some great articles on dealing with difficult terrain. One that is directly relevant to the upcoming CLARENCE VALLEY (see lead image) and TOWNSVILLE ADVENTURETHON TRAIL RUNS is their introductory article on running on rocky ground (http://trailandultrarunning.com/intro-to-trail-running-part-2-rocks-rock/).
Training Peaks also have a number of very helpful articles on running, training, and difficult terrain (https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/5-tips-for-technical-trail-running-and-racing/). Perhaps the most important hints Training Peaks provide for most trail runners are:
- BE PATIENT; Aim to finish the race, not get caught up in a racers’ mentality about placings. This will allow you to remain more focused on foot placements and worry less about what everyone is doing around you. Good strategy leads to successful finishes. The podium can come later once your ability is appropriate for the terrain.
- WALK; Remember, this is trail running, there is no shame in walking difficult sections, even the very best walk at times. Again, be patient and focus on finishing, that is reward in itself.
- DON’T FORGET to enjoy your surroundings, closeted from city life and roads, look around and you might be surprised how refreshed your mind is following a sweet trail run.
You can also find many useful videos on YouTube that cover the topic of difficult terrain. Remember these generally show top runners negotiating the terrain so don’t expect to emulate their performances initially, rather, pay close attention to their techniques, body positions, cadence, and words of advice. We think it is much easier to watch the pros in action than read their tips so our recommendation for improving your technical terrain running whatever level you are starting from is to start watching now. Here are a couple of excellent tutorials you might consider watching if you want to improve your technical terrain running: