There must be fluidity on the trails. There are 1 million variables a second as the ground is ever changing in elements, angle and density.
Nothing is straight. You can’t check out of your mind and just fall forward like on the road. Your unconscious brain is in overdrive keeping you from planting so you can’t take up any extra bandwidth with conscious processing.
Trail running is catching yourself from falling 10,000 times a minute. It’s one controlled crash that you manage to avoid. Trail running is an instinctual experience that we’ve forgotten how to ride. Instinctual movement.
This ability to run trails is something you need to practice full time. Here is how to bring this element of trail running to the road.
Tip #1 Be Present
Be in the present moment.
Much of road training is automated. When running on treadmills or roads we tend to check out. It’s part of the fun sometimes; our way to escape from the stresses of the day. We daydream about the past and future instead of being actively aware of our present.
But even just a brief bit of inattention in trail running can lead to rolled ankles and other injuries. Staying in the moment will keep you from wandering off track and getting lost.
Embrace the many different ways you will have to move your body. Embrace the obstacles and details your find before you. Be present for the experience and you’ll not only enjoy it more, you’ll be safer and more successful.
Take this attitude to your run on the road.
Tip #2: Go Non-Linear
Everything on the roads is about straight lines. It’s about making sure you can keep yourself moving forward versus side to side.
Well, throw that attitude out the window the next time you hit the streets. Don’t run down the streets, run through the streets. Over the streets.
Keep looking for ways to turn to your left and right at all times. Use every inch of the sidewalk and shoulder of the road. Make sure that you don’t simply run in a straight line between two points.
Tip #3: Find Shortcuts
You need to improvise. Try and cover every alley and side street. Realize that you can run 3 miles for every 1 you encounter.
When on the trails you need to figure things out on the fly. Try this on the road. Look for the 10,000 different ways from one street to the next.
You might need to jump a little. Maybe climb. Whatever the case, don’t settle for the most obvious way forward. Keep your mind ever engaged in the process of deciphering the ground before you.
Tip #4: Carry Gear
Don’t die. That is the ultimate goal of trail running.
If you hit your pace or your mileage, kudos to you. But the real aim is getting home safe.
So you need to be cool with carrying stuff and preparing more than road running, especially if you are going out for long distances.
So even though you might be going for a shorter run, or there are lots of food and drink places along the way, carry your trail gear. Be self-sufficient, not needing to stop for anything.