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Injuries suck, there's no doubt about it. Not knowing where you're going, not taking enough fuel and generally not paying attention can land you in trouble. But even if you have all the safety boxes ticked, the 3 mistakes listed below can quickly lead to injury and end your trail running adventure before it starts!
1. Tensing Up
Often, when we first start hitting the trails we are overly conscious of the injury risks that lurk around every meandering corner, down every steep hill and on every camouflaged tree root.
While it's great to be aware of the hazards, this can sometimes lead to our bodies tensing up. Stiff knees and stiff hips will drastically increase the chance of injury and our worries could then become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Obviously, we won't become less tense by reading an online article telling us to be less tense. But we will naturally become more comfortable and therefore more loose by spending more time on trails.
The safest way to build up your confidence is by starting small. Have respect for the discipline and learn your trade on the less technical trails first.
2. Striding Too Long
One of the biggest changes required, particularly from road runners, when first hitting the trails is a big reduction in stride length.
When we take long strides we can find ourselves over committed to where our foot will land and therefore unable to react quick enough when we spot rocks, roots and other hazards.
To combat this we need to retrain ourselves by consciously taking very small strides, at least to begin with. It may feel strange and unnatural at first but increasing strides to around 80-95 per minute will give you the ninja reflexes needed to react to your new surroundings.
3. Running Every Day
We know it's fun but when starting out we must resist to temptation to run trails every day, even if we've been running roads every day for years.
Trail running involves a wider range of muscles and movements than running on a flat surface and these muscles need to be built up gradually.
You wouldn't advise a non-runner to run every day when they're just starting out, the same applies here.