Tag Archives: trail running

Agility Training for Runners

Runner need to do things other than run to become faster, more powerful athletes if there’s a PR sometime in the future.  While strength training is incredibly valuable, agility training is equally as important and unfortunately also overlooked.  Agility training has lots of big benefits from making you a stronger all around athlete to building better body awareness.  Here are several fun ways to enhance your running with simple agility exercises.

Form Drills.  Running form drills are usually included in a good warm up.  That’s because they get your body ready to run and ready to run well.  Drills such as carioca, ‘a-skips’, ‘b-skips’, butt agility trainingkicks and high knees all build strength, coordination and promote high quality running form.  These agility skills can be also be practiced on their own, outside of a warm-up.

Agility Ladder.  Also called a speed ladder this simple tool can have big benefits.  Moving your feet fast through the ladder will carry over to less contact time when you’re running.  Jumping movement will build ankle strength, foot responsiveness and explosive power.  An agility ladder is a good place to improve footwork, learn how to control your body and the amount of energy you’re putting into the ground.

Cones.  Like the agility ladder, there is an endless number of exercises you can perform with a bunch of cones.  These provide a chance for bigger lateral movements than the ladder and can be especially beneficial to trail runners.  Using cones will develop your ability to accelerate, change direction and move your feet quickly.  Try a variety of configurations and run on angles for the biggest benefits.

Include at least some of these agility training exercises in each of your warm-ups and add a few more to your normal non-running routine.  You’ll get stronger and faster with their help.

Coach Meredith

4 Reasons to Trail Run this Spring

There’s nothing quite like going for a trail run in the spring.  Blooming flowers, cool breezes and fresh air make for lovely running weather after long cold winters.  Whether it’s you and nature or a group of your favorite running buddies there’s something special about getting away from the road.  Here are four great reasons to check out your local park this spring.

Scenery – The city and its lights are awesome.  They provide the opportunity to run at all hours in relative safety.  But even those attributes can’t beat getting lost in the woods.trail run  Of course, not actually lost.  There’s no better place than a nice long trail run to spend some time with your thoughts while admiring the foliage and animals waking up for summer.  The change of view will also do your brain good.  Check out this study on just how hitting the trails makes us happier.

Surface – The dirt you’ll face when on a trail run is a welcome break from the hard pavement most of us usually run on.  Even treadmill runners can benefit from the soft surface of dirt.  The decreased rebound you feel on turf means your race tired knees and hips take a little less pounding every step.

Strength – Running on an uncertain, uneven and sometimes covered surface means your ankles and feet have to work extra hard to keep you upright.  Not only do your feet have to quickly react to the challenges of climbing hills, hoping over roots, dodging rocks and splashing through streams, your calves, quads and core are also pushed to respond quickly to the constantly changing path.  A little extra work on the trail means better results on the pavement and a stronger, more durable running body.

Accessories – There’s no better time than a nice long trail run to try out new running toys.  Check out some new trail shoes (they’re comfy).  Want a brighter headlamp?  Perfect opportunity.  That old CamelBak need replacing?  Good timing.  You can also stock up on things for the upcoming fall and winter with sales at your favorite running retailer.

**Trails are also dangerous places.  Wild animals are exactly that, wild.  Remember to play to safe with snakes, bears and even squirrels.  Wear some reflective gear, a headlamp if the dark is a risk and bring water.  Be sure someone knows where you’re going, what time you should be back and how to handle it if you’re not.**

Coach Meredith

7 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

Trail running is a great way to enjoy the changing leaves, crisp air and great outdoors this spring.  It’s also a little different from road running, requiring a different mindset, different muscles and a bit more time.  Here are seven tips from Team ECRP to help your trail trail runningrunning program get started in the right direction.

Accessorize.  Make sure you’re prepared for a trail running workout with trail shoes, sunblock, a hat, sunglasses and bug spray.  You can also check out running gaiters.  These fashion accessories help keep your ankles and feet safe from stones, sticks and other trail debris while you’re out enjoying nature.

Work on your core.  Running on uneven ground challenges your balance.  The muscles of your core, abs, obliques, lower back, are what help you stay on your feet.  The stronger they are, the more stable you’ll be and that means less likelihood of injury.  Practice balance and core strengthening exercises regularly to help your trail running performance.

Leave extra time.  You’ll be looking for the path of least resistance, rather than the shortest route from Point A to Point B on the trails.  That might mean switchbacks or taking the long way around.  Run for time, rather than distance until you’re familiar with different paths and the difficulties they each ask you to face.

Start slowly.  Trails are different than roads or treadmills.  They’re uneven, inconsistent and tougher on ankles and feet.  Adjust to trail running with shorter runs than you’d do on the road and build up trail runninguntil you feel 100% comfortable.

Keep going slowly.  With dirt paths, roots to watch out for and lots of other potential obstacles, trail running requires more effort then road running.  Slow down and run by effort rather than pace, even if it means walking up hills in the beginning.

Stay safe.  Consider head lamps, pepper spray and reflective gear.  Always be sure to take an ID, tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back.  If you can, take your cell phone or a map and be aware of what’s going on around you at all times.  Knowing the rules of the trail, such as yielding to downhill runners, equestrians and cyclists as well as staying on marked trails and running through, not around, puddles will all help you get home safely.

Bring fluids.  Trail running can be unpredictable.  Mud, rain, snow and streams all have the potential to make your run a little more hazardous, making the time it takes you to finish hard to determine.  The last thing you want to do is run out of water, so wear or stash it.  If your route crosses parking lots or picnic areas drop a water bottle off before you start.  You can also use handheld water bottles, mini-bottle waist belts or a hydration pack to make sure you don’t get thirsty.

Use these tips to kick off spring with successful trail running.

Coach Meredith

Off-Track Speed Work

Speed work is an important part of a solid training plan.  It helps you build strength, cardiovascular capacity and increases both speed and turnover.  So, of course, there’s no better place to do it than on the track, right?  Not always.  Here’s how off-track speed work can make all the difference.off-track speed work

But wait, isn’t that what tracks are for?  Yes, the track is a wonderful place to run fast.  Just don’t do it too often unless you’re going to race there.  The constant left turns can create extra torque on your inside leg, the surface might not be the same as what you’ll find on race day and it can be boring.  By choosing off-track speed work instead, you’ll reap some major physical and mental benefits.

Running hard away from the track’s smooth, steady surface makes muscles work on both sides of your body.  You learn to balance in all directions and deal with the variety a road or trail presents while strengthening your hips, ankles, core and legs.  Conquering race-like conditions during training goes a long way to helping you succeed after toeing the line.

To get started with off-track speed work find a place where it’s safe to run fast.  Ideally that will be a road, paved trail, park or sidewalk where you aren’t battling distractions from traffic or other outdoor recreation activities.  Hills are a great spot for challenging speed workouts and can be lots of fun.  Mark a one/two/three mile loop around your neighborhood to use as benchmarks for progress.  When you can cover the same distance faster with less effort, you’ll know your fitness if improving.

Remember, the track is always there when you’re in a jam.  If you don’t have somewhere safe to go instead or are working with a group, it can be the perfect spot.  But to get the most out of those fast sessions, opt for off-track speed work as often as possible.

Coach Meredith

4 Reasons to Trail Run This Fall

There’s nothing quite like going for a trail run in the fall.  Changing leaves, cool breezes and fresh air make for lovely running weather after hot humid summers.  Whether you head out on your own or take a pack of buddies with you, the peace of a trail can’t be beat.  Here are four great reasons to check out your local park this fall.

Scenery – The city and its lights are awesome.  They provide the opportunity to run at all hours in relative safety.  But even those attributes can’t beat getting lost in the woods.trail run  Of course, not actually lost.  There’s no better place than a nice long trail run to spend some time with your thoughts while admiring the foliage and animals packing away for winter.  The change of view will also do your brain good.  Check out this study on just how hitting the trails makes us happier.

Surface – The dirt you’ll face when on a trail run is a welcome break from the hard pavement most of us usually run on.  The decreased rebound you feel on turf means your race tired knees and hips take a little less pounding every step.

Strength – Running on an uncertain, uneven and sometimes covered surface means your ankles and feet have to work extra hard to keep you upright.  Not only do your feet have to quickly react to the challenges of climbing hills, hoping over roots, dodging rocks and splashing through streams, your calves, quads and core are also pushed to respond quickly to the constantly changing path.  A little extra work on the trail means better results on the pavement and a stronger, more durable running body.

Accessories – There’s no better time than a nice long trail run to try out new running toys.  Check out some new trail shoes (they’re comfy).  Want a brighter headlamp?  Perfect opportunity.  That old CamelBak need replacing?  Good timing.  You most definitely need a new lightweight reflective jacket.  Hitting the trails for fall is a great excuse to invest in high quality new gear.

**Trails are also dangerous places.  Wild animals are exactly that, wild.  Remember to play to safe with snakes, bears and even squirrels.  Wear some reflective gear, a headlamp and bring food and water.  Be sure someone knows where you’re going, what time you should be back and how to handle it if you’re not.**

Then go have fun!

Coach Meredith