Trail Running has recently become an essential part of my life. It hasn’t always been the case but it sure is now. In this article, I will try to inspire and guide you in getting the most out of your trail runs so that you can truly enjoy the beauty of what mother nature has to offer. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced trail runner, you can always find new inspiration for your runs.
First thing’s first. Forget all musts and don’t start comparing your trail run with how fast you run 5K on a track. Clearly you can race on the trails but now we shift focus elsewhere.
Instead of setting a distance goal, set a time goal. For example, decide that your goal is to spend one hour on the trails. How far or how fast you will run is irrelevant here, there are stats that you can check later on if necessary. As soon as you step into the woods, try to start with some deep breaths and just listen. What can you hear? Maybe you hear the wind in the trees or maybe it’s all quiet and peaceful. One thing is sure, no matter how stressful my day has been, when I start my runs like this I instantly get calmer and my face wants to smile. Try it out – just one minute before you hit the trails is all you need.
Start slow and let your body adapt and get warm. One of the mistakes I made in the beginning was to start way too hard which made me feel like I was chasing my breath during the entire run. Take the first 10-15 minutes to slowly get warmer and don’t be afraid to walk if you come to an uphill climb. Once again, listen and experience nature. Some days, you can let the entire run turn into a long warmup. Maybe you’ll run past a beautiful view, stop and take a moment. It’s not always about getting worn out. But if you feel like increasing your heart rate, ”fartlek” is a really nice way to do so.
How to Fartlek
Fartlek, which means ”speed play”, is simply defined as periods of increased running pace mixed with periods of slower running or walking. When your warmup is done, spot a landmark and increase your pace until you reach your spotted target. For example, it can be a big old tree, an uphill or a downhill segment. Once you’ve reached your target, start to jog or walk until your heart rate and breath calm down. Repeat as many times as your body and mind wants. Play with the speed, don’t get stuck in one pace. This is a really fun and effective workout that you can easily adapt depending on how your body feels after it.
The cooldown might be the most important section of your run. This time is a chance to let your body calm down. If your last interval was hard, start by walking for a few minutes until your breath slows down. Then slowly jog for an additional 10-15 minutes. Give yourself some love, tell yourself that you have done a great job and enjoy the great feeling in your body and mind. You are great! End it the same way you started your run and don’t forget to fill your body with water and great food.