Up Your Trail Running Game This Spring

by | Sep 6, 2023 | Run, Training "How To's"

Everything to get you off the couch and into trail running as the seasons change.

Trail running is the original sport. You see, our ancestors were masters of harnessing the synergy between breath, mind and muscles to navigate wild landscapes with unparalleled grace. This concept is eloquently unpacked by renowned author Christopher McDougall in his captivating work ‘Born to Run,‘ which delves into the remarkable running culture of the Tarahumara Indians, super-athletes from the Stone Age era in Mexico. At the crux of the story lies an intriguing theory: our mastery of running played a pivotal role in propelling humans to the apex of Earth’s species hierarchy. Okay, enough romance:

To distill the essence of McDougall’s theory: Our exceptional running abilities may well have contributed significantly to our ascendancy as the dominant species on our planet. Dr Lawrence van Lingen, the visionary mind behind Innerunner running workshops and a mentor to world-class athletes, including trail running sensation Ryan Sandes, offers profound insights into this theory. He posits that early humans armed only with sharpened sticks would chase down antelope over extended distances, eventually outlasting them to secure a bounty of protein. This nutritious reward, in turn, fueled the development of our brains.

Now, you don’t need to run to eat, but perhaps you are new to the world of trail running and looking to step out this Spring and join the thriving community, or, you have paid your primary school fees out on the trails and are looking to step it up, here is what you need to get into trail running:

GET OUT THERE – The Essentials Needed For Trail Running

Trail Running

If you’re a newbie, then here are half a dozen tips to get you from zero to trail hero. If you are a more experienced runner looking to step it up in terms of fitness, distance and grade of technical trails, here are some essentials to consider. To gear up for some longer runs and mileage races, these are the best hydration packs out there and these are the Sports Watches that will take your trail running training to the next level.

IMPROVE – Trail Running Specific Cross Training

Deadlifts Are A Great Exercise To Add To Your Trail Running Routine
Deadlift. (c) Cottonbro Studio / Pexels

Cross-training should be a part of every trail runner’s training program, regardless of fitness (and trail-running skill) level. Not only will it help to improve your overall fitness and prevent injury, but it also goes a long way to keeping your motivation levels up. Click here for a handful of easy exercises to include in your programme.

FUEL UP – Nutrition Tips For Trail Runners

Fuel Up For Trail Running

You might not be aspiring to conquer big-name ultra-distance trail races such as pro racer, Matt Healy, but you can learn a lot from his nutrition strategies and apply it to your own trail running needs. Learn more here.

EXPLORE – Special places To Go Trail Running

Trail Running In A National Parl
(c) Craig Kolesky / Red Bull Content Pool

Inspired to get out there and start trail running on some of South Africa’s most beautiful trails? Here are a few destinations worth considering and to take it to the next level, check out these trails in National Parks.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO – The Best Apps For Trail Runners

Best Mobile Apps For Runners
It might be sunny when you start your run, but weather can change in an instant. (c) Blue Bird / Pexels

As a trail runner, you need an accurate mobile weather app to help you know if and when it is likely to rain; the direction of the wind (and, whether it will pick up, subside or change later) as well as the temperature and how that might change. Click here for a carefully curated list of our favourite mobile weather apps, all of which we’ve used extensively.

What sets us apart from most creatures is our unique ability to sweat, an efficient cooling mechanism, and our bipedal nature, which grants us unparalleled efficiency in covering ground. As Van Lingen succinctly puts it, “You were genetically engineered to run.”

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