She’s on the trails: how to get into trail running | HerCanberra

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She’s on the trails: how to get into trail running

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Welcome to Kirra Rankins’s new series—She’s on the trails—where she explores everything you need to know about trail running (including the importance of B & E rolls and how to stay injury free).

Are you one of the many Canberrans who have started trail running?

I sure am.

Trail running events have grown 231% in the last 10 years*.  Female participation has grown from 13% in 1997 to 46% in 2022 *. Running is free, and it’s flourishing. And if you can’t run—walk…

It’s never too late to start—research has shown that trail runners have never been older with an average age of 39.5 years. I have trail-running friends in their 70s and 80s. This sport is for everyone! Add to that; three countries have more female than male participants (Canada, New Zealand, and Argentina). #WillAustraliaBeNext?

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, more people are lacing up and getting out on the trails. It’s free, adventurous, and challenging. It’s great for the senses and mood, and an escape from the virtual online meeting world. Trail running builds strength and agility due to the uneven terrain (just be careful of those loose rocks!), and the softer surface absorbs the impact. However, trail running doesn’t necessarily have to be treacherous, you can choose your path—there are many safe, soft surfaces around Canberra to explore.

Even though there has been significant growth in trail running events over the past 10 years, COVID took its toll on the movement through 2020/2021. However, by the end of 2022, it is predicted that trail running will be back on its feet—and more popular than ever.

I participated in a trail run event at Kowen Forrest on the weekend (just 30 minutes from the Canberra city) and overall, there were more women completing than men. Hundreds of local Canberran’s were out there sweating it up together (with their snake bandages, running backpacks full of water, lollies and smiles). I was so impressed. I thought “I’ve found my tribe!” Relaxed, adventurous, happy to hurt, and willing to stop to help….and E&B rolls at the end.

Yep—Egg and Bacon rolls are part of your entry fee.

Now that I’ve got your attention…

If you’re injured, or have chronic pain issues and can’t participate, you can still be a part of the community and volunteer (there’s plenty of seated roles, while still being a part of the action), or walk and take scheduled breaks. One woman I ran next to had 70 “friends” participating from her running squad (I was going to write “compete”, however, for many, that word doesn’t sit right). Trail running is about participation, fun and community.  What a great clique! Friendships are made for life on those adventurous trails. People open up about their personal lives on the trails—there’s something about running next to each other and sweating together that allows people to “share their sh*t”.

If you’re interested in entering a trail running event, just Google it. There are plenty around. They start from 5km to over 100km. I’d recommend starting small and work your way up. My favourite event is the Stromlo Running Festival in November. The best way to enjoy an event, is to prepare properly and do the training. Find a running group, or rope in an accountability buddy. This article isn’t about how to train, but I’m happy to write about that if that’s what you’re looking for. Let me know.

Over the past six weeks I’ve done some amazing events—the Stromlo Running Festival, the Kozi Trail Run (where it was literally snowing for the first 10km….in December!), ran with the amazing Erchana from Tip-To-Toe (who’s raising money for Wildlife—look her up on IG), and recently the Kowen Trail event. I have three little kids, a business and a supportive husband, and need to manage my energy meticulously. Personally, being out in nature makes me feel grounded, and ready to tackle day-to-day living (and the challenges that comes with it).

Here are some hacks that helps me stay injury free and enjoy the journey:

1) Consistency.

Have a plan for progressive overload (made by a professional) and stick to it. Make sure they know your daily/weekly stressors, so they can tailor the program appropriately.

2) Scheduled recovery days/ low load days and sleep.

Depending on your running history, low load days are essential. A low load day/week is where you decrease the distance spent on your legs. Walking is great for recovery.

Sleep is the most efficient and cost-effective way to recover.

3) Cross training

What do you do for cross training? Personally, I can’t run more than three days a week, or I’ll get injured and burnout. I love to do circuits (as it’s time efficient), Deep Water Running and do Hydrolates (Aquatic Pilates).

For those who have chronic pain, and can’t load their body regularly, here’s a Hydro program I like to follow (print the PDF here)—focusing on ankle stability, hip mobility and a thoracic exercise too (as the running backpack makes my thoracic tight). I’ll share more of these programs over the coming weeks.

4) Strength bands

Here’s a simple strength band workout I love to do to keep my hips and back happy, mobile, and strong (print the PDF here). Wrap the resistance band around your legs, and away you go. You can buy a micro or fabric band from Kmart or Rebel Sport. I’d also recommend an agility and ankle band workout if you’re tackling the trails—I’ll share that program in the next articles too.

5) Trigger point balls, foam rolls and toe spacers (daily)

Once the kids are asleep, it’s trigger point ball time.  It’s a nightly ritual. Toe spacers are great for trail runners and helps prevent common foot injuries.

6) Enjoy the view

If you don’t stop to enjoy your surroundings, you probably won’t last long in the sport😉

So, there are my hacks—it’s not rocket science. Simplicity works for me. Consistency works for me plus a plan and shut eye. You don’t have to break records – just enjoy the process.

Have you started trail running? What’s your formula to stay injury free?

Love, Kirra

Capital Hydrotherapy and Exercise Physiology is open for one-on-one Hydrotherapy, Aquatic Physiotherapy (and land-based Physio), land-based Exercise Physiology, small group therapy, Hydrolates™ classes (Aquatic Pilates) with strict COVID-safe precautions.

If you are injured, have a chronic health condition, or need a plan to improve your health and wellbeing—call us today 6156 2223!

* Stats and data came from The State of Trail Running 2022 report.

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