Summer is peaking and Fall is within sight. School is back in session. For many students, this means the beginning of cross country season. But the trails aren't just for the high-school squads. Trail running is hugely popular. Enough so that the Atlanta Track Club started the Wingfoot XC Classic, a cross country race featuring high school teams from across North Georgia that also has an open division for average Joe's and Jane's to tackle the course. The 2016 race will be held September 24 in Cartersville, GA, and Fleet Feet Decatur will be there!
With trail running on the brain, here are a few tips to get the most of your experience off the road.
1. Unplug - Ditch the earbuds and top-40 playlist for trail runs. This can be a safety issue when trying to navigate traffic in the close confines of a singletrack trail. It also drowns out the beauty of birdsong, flowing water, and other local fauna.
2. Don't worry about pace - If you are used to running a 24-minute 5K on the streets, don't automatically assume you can do the same the first time you take to the trail. Hills, loose terrain and diverse obstacles like rocks and tree roots will impact your pace. Besides, trail runs are about being out in nature. That can be difficult if you spend the entire time hawking over your stopwatch.
3. Be mindful of your form - Another characteristic of running on the streets is that the running surface is (mostly) predictable. The diversity of the trail requires that runners pay closer attention to what is happening 10-15 feet in front of them to prepare. When it comes to your stride, we recommend shortening it a bit to preserve legs and ensure the range of motion needed to get over roots, rocks, and other varied terrain. Drive from your core, and keep your arm swing active.
4. Shoes - Can road running shoes be taken on the trails? Yes. Are there better shoes for the job? Yes. Shoes specifically designed for the trail carry unique features to make them better equipped for off-road running. These features include rock plates for protecting against sharp terrain, uppers made to drain water and stay dry, sturdier toe caps, rugged outsoles made of softer rubber for better grip on wet surfaces, and more. Fleet Feet Decatur has two trail shoes in-store: the Brooks Cascadia, and the Hoka Challenger ATR.
Hoka Challenger ATR
Come by the store, check out our new trail shoes, and sign up for the Wingfoot XC Classic in September--we hope to see you there!