Do you wish you could run up and down mountains easier so that you can smile and have fun the whole way?
It is easy to get wrapped up in the “I suck” mentality or to be frozen with fear. Becoming a mountain runner typically does not happen overnight and takes time to learn the skills needed to run up and down steep terrain. You also need to train your body for a more playful but challenging type of running.
Many people think that mountain runners RUN the whole way. The truth is that there can be a lot of power hiking involved even when setting a course record or FKT.
I used to think that I had to run every step and literally broke my body and ego trying to do it. My background is in hiking so I had the basics of moving on challenging terrain but not the ability to do it faster.
When starting to mountain run don’t be frustrated with the amount of walking you have to do. What is important is focusing on how to piece the rocks together in your mind to form a path. You will also have to get used to looking a bit further ahead because your mind will process where you are much faster than you think. Before you make that next step you have already moved on to what is ahead.
Trust your eyes and brain to guide you across technical terrain and practice in your yard or a short trail near your house. Get used to jumping from rock to root to rock and getting to know what it feels like to land on the top, side or to slip off a rock or root. In a safe and controlled environment you can practice this by creating a small obstacle course at home. Get to know what your shoes can grip and what they cannot.
When you get on rocky terrain count 5-10 hops and then walk. Give yourself a chance to regroup. Treat your rock hopping like you would a fartlek run.
When learning how to run up steep terrain practice getting up on your toes more and make sure you are doing calf exercises with heavy weights to get you ready for long days in the mountains. The steeper the terrain the more you will be up on your toes. You also need to practice the transition from jogging to running to power hiking. Being able to transition quickly from each will make it easier to get to the top.
For downhill mountain running you need to find that sweet spot (the position that works best for you). Ideally you want to have the least amount of effort and force on your knees and body while descending. On technical terrain shorter steps will make it easier to run down difficult terrain.
Be patient with yourself when transitioning from trail running to mountain running. It can take 2-6 months depending on your current fitness level.
If you are looking for coaching, a private clinic or group clinic to improve your mountain running skills feel free to reach out!