A few months ago, I wrote a post about what I learned after spending several months running in the mountains of the Southwest. Here are a few more tips:
- When running over mud, beware of the shiny stuff. That is usually an indicator that it’s either very slippery or soft enough to sink. Dull mud has less water content, and can usually be traversed safely. This is especially true if the mud covers a cambered surface.
- Also beware of gravel or sand over rock, especially when running downhill. The tiny rocks act like ball bearings, which is unstable. When possible, step on bare rock. If you must step on gravel-covered rocks, try to pick a flat surface. If you have no choice but to step on a cambered gravel-covered surface, dramatically shorten your stride to keep your feet near your center of gravity. This will help you keep your balance if you slip.
- Plan at least three steps ahead. Get in the habit of looking at the trail and choosing where your foot will land three steps ahead of where you’re currently stepping. Learning to anticipate each step in advance will dramatically reduce the incidence of biffing it.
- Pay attention to the surroundings and be familiar with the general topography of the area. Specifically, know where major roads and rivers are located, know which way water will be flowing, and where major mountains and valleys are located. In the event you get lost, knowing this basic information can return you to safety.
- Advice from hikers on the trails is rarely applicable to runners. This includes distances (hikers always seem to overestimate), time (same deal), supplies needed (they carry far more than runners), and the difficulty of trails (they often report trails are more difficult than they are). Hikers DO often have good advice on weather and directions.
Any mountain running friends have additional tips? Share them in the comments section!