Workout from Green Racing Project skier Caitlin Patterson, who also has legit running creds – she represented the US at World Mountain Running Championships in 2017
Trail running can be a straightforward and nearly mindless workout – just lace up the shoes, find a local trail and go. However if you approach it with mindfulness, it can also be a great way to work on agility. Singletrack running requires pushing off to the side, turning corners, and varying stride length and tempo to accommodate features of the trail. Here are some suggestions, and questions to ask yourself, as you work on running flow and agility with mindfulness.
Workout: distance running at an easy pace with a few accelerations.
Select a small section or loop that you could repeat a few times. If you’re not used to running on singletrack, try to choose a smooth section with corners but relatively few tripping hazards, or you could even mimic singletrack by zig-zagging back and forth across a wider trail.
Start the workout by jogging for 10-20 minutes on easy terrain, to give your ankles and lower leg tendons a chance to warm up. Head to the singletrack and jog your chosen segment, to acquaint yourself with the turns and features. Then run the loop or section of singletrack again – bring your pace a little higher for a 20-30 second focus area. Instead of expecting to feel muscle burn or to be breathing too hard after this small acceleration, seek efficiency of foot placement and a feel of flowing around the obstacles. Repeat the segment a few times and experiment! Here are a few questions to contemplate:
- Can you get to a point where your eyes and feet are synchronized, where it doesn’t take conscious effort to decide where to put each foot? Are you scanning ahead to anticipate the upcoming terrain?
- Are you still breathing well?
- Is your upper body relaxed? Do the arms stay relatively close to the body and with a stable torso? If your arms do some light flailing or wind-milling when running downhills, that’s ok, but your shoulders should never be pulled up towards your ears or locked in position. A relaxed upper body is one of the keys to comfortable and fast downhill running.