All you need to know to get better in just 5 quick paragraphs.
Michael Wardian is an absolute master at trail running – and at ultra distances. There’s more than a few things we could learn from him.
At RunUpYourLife we are always hunting for roundups with the best tips available. We’ll give you the highlights here: short and sweet.
1. TRAIN FOR TRAILS
Trail running takes a different skill set than jogging on roads, but it’s not hard to learn.
The important part: Break up your strides so you’re landing on your feet differently, mimicking the hazards of trails.
2. MANAGE FEAR
Practice will build confidence but there are also a few tricks that can help improve technique. First, don’t wear sunglasses while running trails, says Wardian, because dappled light can distort depth perception. Second, focus ten feet ahead on the trail. “When you’re running on bike paths, it’s easy to zone out and listen to your iPod,” he says. “But on technical trails, you have to pick your feet up.” Look about three strides ahead, and your feet will follow.
3. ATTACK YOUR WEAKNESSES
It’s a lesson we all could learn: Even the best runners have room for improvement. Pinpoint your own weaknesses by running with other people, whether it’s a race or with a local running club, then focus on improving, whether it’s climbing, descending, sprints, or endurance. “That’s what’s nice about running,” says Wardian. “Once you become good at one thing, there’s always something you can work to improve on.”
4. CHANGE YOUR KICKS
It’s an age-old truth—repetitive motions can lead to overuse injuries—but Wardian has a novel and effective solution: Change up your shoes. “It keeps you from striking the same way,” says Wardian. “I love it, especially if you have the means to be able to get a couple different pairs.” He has a variety of shoes, including racing flats, hybrid road-and-trail shoes, burly trail runners, and even spring-loaded sneakers. Especially on days when he runs twice, Wardian switches up his kicks. “With different weights, you place your feet differently, and it helps keep it fresh.”
5. COMMIT TO A RACE
“It’s cool to go out and run ten miles, but it’s really neat to run ten miles with 15,000 other people,” says Wardian. “Even if you’re not competitive, it’s pretty neat to be a part of that massive humanity moving toward the same goal.” Wardian suggests finding events, whether 5K races, marathons, or charity runs.
By Kate Siber, for National Geographic.
Featured image: Buff.