Trail running is as rewarding as it is challenging. You get to workout and run amok at the same time.
We chased down accomplished trail runner Joey Schrichte on his home trails of Durango, Colorado, to see how he tackles the ups and downs of tough terrain, and has fun doing it.
“Trail running isn’t about running a specific pace for a workout on a road or track,” Schrichte says. “It’s more about just being comfortable on the trail.”
Here’s how he does it:
“The No. 1 advice I would tell people is to go a lot slower than you are used to,” Schrichte says. “Just make sure you’re calm and relaxed.”
1) Breath in
“I definitely have a heavy focus on my breathing,” he says. “Just try to make sure I’m relaxed and it’s not super labored.”
For many new runners this might mean taking plenty of breaks and walking, which is just fine.
2) Stay light on your feet
“My second focus is shortening my stride,” he says. “I have more gentle footsteps. I run a little bit more up on my toes.”
With quick and easy footsteps, Schrichte can move efficiently over whatever comes up.
3) Balancing act
Schrichte says he uses his arms, especially on the climb, to gain inertia and help carry his body uphill. “To get momentum from that and put more power in the upper body as opposed to the lower body doing all the work.”
On downhills, his somewhat extended arms help him balance. “As you’re jumping from side to side, you’ve got to have an upper body balance too. You don’t want to be flailing.”
Schrichte also says to keep your feet under your body weight on the downhill, to provide traction and maintain that sense of balance.
4) Find your line
Trail runners can see through the most unforgiving terrain and float over it like magic.
“I try to find the path of least resistance,” Schrichte says. “My eyes are five to 10 feet ahead, and I’ve mentally picked out my next few steps.” Find the line and stick with it.
5) Find your inner child
“What draws people to trail running is that it’s just natural. Enjoy it.” Schrichte says. “It relaxes the mind, takes you back to being eight, jumping around, running through creeks and streams. Hopping on rocks. You’re more connected to everything.”