Trail running tips and technique

Marion. ©Daniel K. Cooper

Highway driving is different from off-roading. The same holds true for running on a paved surface and trail running.

Working a wide range of muscles

The terrain is irregular and softer out on the trails. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Your stride will need to vary with almost every step. Trail running requires a lot more work for the ankles and quads, especially if you choose to run on some of our more hilly trails. However, the softer terrain is much more forgiving on our joints than the hard pavement.

Regular running shoes are not ideal for trail running. Road shoes are designed to absorb. On the trail you need something more stable and with a more aggressive sole to avoid slipping on wet terrain. You need to make a few adjustments in your technique to maximize your experience.

Uphill technique

Pump your arms like a sprinter to give yourself momentum. Favour shorter fast strides. Lift up your feet to avoid tripping. Run when you can, change to a power walk when it becomes too steep. Don’t burn all your energy at the start of a hill: pace and keep some energy, and listen to your heart rate.

Downhill technique

Shorten your stride to better react and manoeuvre around rocks and roots. Hold your arms to your side to help maintain balance. Land on the front of your foot. Stay focused. Do not let your mind wander. Keep your eyes on where your foot is going to land next.

Adjust your expectations

Modify the time allowed for your run. Forget your pace and speed. You will not be able to cover a 5K on the trail in the same amount of time you can on the road. You can’t zone out, but you can get in the zone.


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Robert Roy


Robert Roy86 Posts

Kinésiologue reconnu et un expert chevronné, Robert Roy utilise l’exercice à des fins de prévention, de réhabilitation et de développement athlétique. Il cumule plus de 20 ans d’expérience avec des athlètes de tous les niveaux. Il a bâti le Quartier Général RobFit afin d’offrir un environnement d’entraînement hors pair dans la région. / Well-known kinesiologist and seasoned professional Robert Roy uses exercise for its preventive and rehabilitative virtues as well as for athletic development. He has more than 20 years of experience with athletes of all levels, and more recently built the Quartier Général RobFit in order to provide an outstanding training environment in this area.

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