Another Sunday – another trail adventure. A hot beautiful morning, a quick skinny capuccino and we we ready to try the Manly Dam again. As I am not a bush tracker and not exceptionally good at landscape orientation, Manly Dam has been this track we’ve always taken a wrong path on.
Today was the day!
Today it also was a dragon race and the shore was over crowded with rowers. Running in the bush usually means the stunning silence of the forest with some occasional birds whistling and constant heavy breathing of my own. Today it was a different day. The bush around the dam was alive – so many runners and mountain bike runners I wasn’t sure we all were able to fit on the same planet (giggling). I was very excited to see so many people hiking, running and cycling in the bush on Sunday morning. Well done, Manly!
Trail running is a very different type of running. Running in a straight line on a hard surface is not entirely my cup of tea (although I of course run on concrete as well). Trail running is like a small challenge, an adventure for anyone participating. It is almost like going back to childhood pretending to be native Indians running in the bushes running away from the intruders.
Trail running is also very pron to injuries therefore starting it up is better of slowly. If you are trying to beat your hard surface best on the soft soil, please stop now. Trail running involves running in the bush which means roots, uneven surface, grass, wet rocks, trees brunches and even unexpected insects or animals on the way. Trail is no doubt is a lot of fun; however can be really dangerous if not taken seriously when going through rough tracks. Trail running often includes climbing and descending, rivers crossing and even some beach running. Anything can happen on the trail!
Bush walking and hiking in Australia claims an impressive number of lives every year therefore please stay on the track, stay hydrated and always carry a phone full of battery and reception.
#TRAILRUN TIPS TO TAKE AWAY
1. Watch your step! Apart from potential snakes and kangaroos in the Australian bush there are also other runners, sharp cliffs and tree brunches. You gotta keep your head moving while train running. It is a lot different from the hard soil run where you can often have a snooze while smoothly running on the concrete. It is a big no-no on the trail. “Your mind and your body must work together” says Ryan Knapp. Do not try to keep the fight the bush and keep the pace. The trail is called so not because it is smooth and obstacle-less but because there would always be something on your way to overtake, jump over, climb under etc so your need to be as switched on you possibly can and slow down in necessarily. This though doesn’t mean you should constantly look down to make sure no snakes on your way. Looking down while running disables you from seeing the upcoming bike riders and other runners. Moreover, it cuts the oxygen you otherwise would have been consuming. Scan the ground with your eyes. Scan it a few meters away and slow down on sharp corners.
2. SKIING ARMS
Your arms become very important in your trail running especially when going up or downhill. Arms are runners’ balancing tools so use them wisely. A lot of it will come naturally to you as you will feel like you need your arms when trail running.
3. CORE LEGS LIFTING
My two biggest pieces of advice are make sure you lift your legs from your core and land them on your feet with no ankle bending. I believe it can often be attributed to wrong trail running shoes (or the lack of these) or wrong technique, of course. Unfortunately, I am still running in my road runners which make my trail slippery and fairly dangerous twisting my ankles. I usually run consciously thinking of my legs movements in order to avoid injuries. However, my advice, get your shoes and technique right.
4. DO NOT OVER COMMIT
Do super commit to the trail running, of course. However be mindful of how wide are your steps. Making shorter steps on the trail protects you from underestimated obstacle disaster. If there is a rock or a root you thought you could easily step over while running but ended up stepping on, slipping and falling over then you are better of going a little more technical about your steps. Do not over commit, take smaller steps.
Don’t forget to check the weather before heading out – Australia is unpredictable and struggles with floods and bush fires. Manly Dam track includes a patch of burnt down trees and it made us a little nervous today during the run. We are getting into summer so make sure you hydrate, sun block and check threads like fires, floods or any animals escape alarms. Do not underestimate Australia!
Oh and of course, be aware of drop bears!
HAPPY TRAIL RUNNING!