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Staying upright on the trails

Joined: 08 Aug 2014
Posts: 1
Michigan, United States
Posted: Fri 08 Aug 2014 06:08 pm GMT   topTop
I just recently started trail running in preparation for a 50K. While I enjoy the trails I have taken a couple of spills, one requiring a few stitches. Is there a secret for not falling other than staying focused on foot fall? One of the falls was on a downhill the other was on a flatter rocky surface. My ultra is a week away on a pretty technical course and I'm feeling a little nervous. Thanks for any advice
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 194
Utah, United States
Posted: Mon 18 Aug 2014 08:47 pm GMT   topTop
How did your race go? Sorry for the delayed reply, but it's probably true that there's not much you could have learned or done in just a week; there are basically no secrets that I know of. I think it's mostly (not all, but mostly) practice and time on the trail.

After spending countless hours on the trails your mind and body will eventually react instantly and without thinking; especially once you start to go faster down rough trails, it's almost an out-of-body experience. It's still a skill that definitely require attention and focus, it's just that after awhile you realize your conscious mind can't control the intricacies and complexities of athletic movement (ever read Inner Skiing or similar books? it's the Self 1 vs Self 2 thing... worth reading).

But consciously, you can alternate your focus on a few things: deliberately remember to pick up your feet higher than usual, watching for rocks and roots protruding higher than the rest. Keep your body centrally balanced over your feet, ready to adjust to a stumble; aim to be light and quick. And make sure you are keeping up on your carbs. Low blood sugar can lower your mental concentration and finer motor skills, and you may notice your feet starting to skim the ground more.

That said, at some point everyone falls. Perhaps some are more prone than others. You might consider biking gloves to help protect the hands when breaking a fall; elite runner Karl Meltzer is famous for always wearing them.

Hope that helps!
Joined: 01 Nov 2014
Posts: 26
Kentucky, United States
Posted: Sat 01 Nov 2014 02:18 am GMT   topTop
How'd it go, A? (and which race was it?) During long night runs, in particular, I've fallen and cut my palm (better than my face!) to the extent it required 4 stitches and also dislocated a finger, during which I sort of hovered above my body watching as some remote part of me pulled it up, out, and back in {{{shudder}}}...during my early training, it was simply a matter of insufficient leg strength to effect clearance, as well as concentration easily compromised by exhaustion - though the latter is a factor even for the vets during long runs or periods of accumulated mileage. As I'm sure you've found, the problem abates considerably with training experience!/Kate