I have always wanted to be able to run up hills easily and then enjoy the downhills.
It was great timing then that the opportunity to join a Salomon Trail Running Workshop came along in April.
Getting to test Salomon kit
Matt and Rachel greeted me with broad smiles whilst surrounded by colourful trainers for everyone to try. I plumped for the Sense Ride 2 as I like trainers that can do a little road running, but also cope with the rigours of off road.
As soon as I put them on they were light and comfy, yet the soles told me they would make easy work of the trails. The question was, could I do them justice?
Avoiding trip hazards
The first lesson was that unlike road running trails are full of trip hazards, but there are tricks to minimise them.
I wish I had heard Matt’s words of wisdom a year ago. They would have saved me breaking a rib after crashing over a root when I was not looking where I was going!
The technique was a higher knee lift, lightness on feet, avoid over striding and always scan the path a few metres ahead. I am reassured that with regularity this becomes second nature.
Making light work of ascents
I was all ears for this lesson. To be able to climb a hill and carry on over the top would be fabulous. Better than my current approach of calling for a ‘time out’ at the summit!
The first pointers were to maintain short light steps whilst keeping my chest up to allow oxygen in.
The piece de resistance though was that it is OK to walk when I have to. Not a gentle saunter you understand. Instead a purposeful walk using my hands to push off just above my knees. My legs started to act like pistons.
With some scepticism I gave this a try climbing Box Hill. A regular haunt that I usually gasp my way up. This time I stormed it, puffing yes, but I was quick by my standards.
Descending with confidence
Rocky descents send my pulse racing. To run downhill without permanently having my brake on would be bonus.
Those familiar light quick feet and checking your route ahead come in to play again.
Additionally, improve your balance by holding your arms out to the sides. You may feel self conscious imitating an aeroplane in public, but having tried it it works.
Finally, Matt reminded the group to run with control. No throwing ourselves down the descents and then suddenly trying to apply the brakes. That is a sure fire way for your run to end in tears!
My top ten tips to take away
I learnt loads in two hours with Matt and Rachel, but if pushed my top ten nuggets would be:
- Always look where you are going (simple but true!).
- Lift your feet higher than when on the road.
- Walk hills when you have to.
- The ‘piston knee’ technique works like a dream.
- Put your arms out for balance.
- Maintain light quick feet as much as possible.
- Practise the techniques.
- Learn from experienced trail runners (take a look at Matt and Rachel‘s websites).
- Invest in a good pair of trail running shoes (I love the Salomon Sense Ride 2).
- Enjoy it 🙂
Well I am off for a run now. I need the practise so I can make the most of my new Sense Ride 2 trainers.
Go on give off road a try, you may just love it.