Sadly we closed just before evening groups could move onto the trails in Sutton Park so I did not post my annual tips for ‘running on trails’. However with so many of you taking to the trails for your daily exercise and having seen a couple of nasty accidents I thought a few pertinent reminders might come in useful. Much of this advice also applies to ‘walking the trails’.
1 Remember that it is harder
Trail running takes longer than road running. The trails are technical, hilly, slippery, rocky, loose; so keep your eye on those and not on your pace. Slow down and take time to enjoy the moment.
Perceived exertion – i.e. how your body feels – is more important than pace. If you start to feel aches and pains, or are feeling particularly fatigued, listen to what your body is telling you and ease up. Most falls I’ve seen occur when people are tired and stop picking up their feet.
2 Look where you are going
There is a skill to scanning the terrain ahead and picking the best route through it. Maintaining social distance makes it more important than ever to look ahead and plan your ‘safe’ route around approaching dog walkers / cyclists / other runners. Observe the social distance but be polite to other trail users and a cheery ‘Good Morning’ goes a long way.
3 Be safe
If you know the park well than by all means set off and see where the mood takes you. For everyone else it’s really worth having a route in mind, this way you can tell someone where you are going and won’t end up lost, knackered and still miles from home! At the moment the routes we pick and the times we go are difficult – we need to take the usual safety concerns into account but add into that the requirement to avoid people. I’d recommend choosing a time of day when you know there will be a few people around, just in case, but avoid busy times at weekends. Carry your phone with you, be confident and consider your escape route should you see something that gives you cause for concern.
4 Wear the right Trainers
The trails have dried up a lot in the last couple of weeks so waterproof shoes are less important. Road running shoes are generally fine for the type of trails we find in Sutton Park, especially as you are likely to be mixing trails with some gravel paths and some tarmac. The trails are very rutted in places so walkers might still want to consider boots which give your ankles more support.
5 Remember the other Stuff
Heading out on the trails remember to wear sunscreen and insect repellent in the coming weeks. Remember any medication you need such as your inhaler or EPI pen. If it’s warm then you might want to carry water with you. Carry your phone and your ICE details.
6 Work on Strength and Balance at home
Running generally but trail running in particular will be improved if you work on Strength and Balance. Some useful exercises you could do at home are lunges, squats and single leg squats, bridges, press ups, dead lifts, calf raises. A wobble board is great for developing foot and angle strength and stability. Yoga and Pilates (plenty of online sessions available) also include ‘balance’ postures in their practise.
If you are new to trails remember it is harder than road running. Give yourself plenty of time to recover between runs. Unless you are used to it I would say you need at least one day off between trail runs.
We are so lucky to live here where many of us can access Sutton Park for our daily exercise. Running on trails is a great way to maintain fitness but also an opportunity to run in the moment, enjoy the natural environment and de stress.
Enjoy and stay safe everyone!