Why does this track runner love trail running? It mixes things up! But other than the new scenery keeping my brain fresh, trail running actually has implications for keeping my body injury free. When I run on the Boulder Creek Path (your basic bike path), I likely run without many variations in my gait pattern– think foot strike (the way my foot hits the ground) and stride (think length and frequency). When I have a monotonous, repetitive gait pattern, my body experiences stresses in very localized places. There just isn’t any variation in the way I am moving (same thing with treadmill running). But when I run on a trail, my body is challenged– Running up and down hills forces me to shorten and lengthen my stride length. In one step I may land further on the outside of my foot than usual, requiring my peroneal muscles (lateral/side leg muscles) to activate and stabilize my leg; and then in the next step, I may be forced to land further up on the ball of my foot. All of these little protuberances my body experiences during trail running, get me out of the stagnant, redundant motions, allow other parts to be used. Essentially, trail running introduces my body to new environments, forces me to utilize a range of gait options, and potentially helping me avoid over use injuries.
Please note, I am not talking about changing the way your foot hits the ground! Rear-foot (heel-striking), mid-foot, fore-foot– keep doing what you are doing! The evidence is mixed, but for most runners, changing your strike pattern will not improve your running economy or reduce your risk of injury (1). Do what ever comes naturally!
So what can you do if you live in a tundra and are banished to a winter of treadmill running? Or live no where near a hill/trail or piece of variety? Rotating through a few different types of shoes can help facilitate the same thing. Different shoes might have you landing slightly different ways each time (2) once again allowing you to spread out those impact stresses on your feet. Of course when trying anything new, make sure to add it in gradually. Be conservative when navigating uncharted territory, listen to your body to make sure you can handle any new stressors.
So just like trail running to mixes up your gait pattern (foot strike and stride), I’m posting a trail mix to help mix up your diet. This recipe should be adapted and tweaked. Already eating almonds weekly, maybe try this recipe with cashews instead? Or find something totally new in the bulk foods section.
Trail mix to mix it up:
Running Trail Mix
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1 cup almonds
- 1/2 pumpkin seeds
- 3/4 cup Dang Coconut Chips
- 1/2 cup dried goji berries
Preheat oven to 325°. Place all ingredients except raisins in a large bowl and toss to combine. Make sure all the nuts have a little seasoning on them. Spread nuts evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove once nuts are golden brown. Cool completely before adding coconut chips and goji berries.
- Hamill, J., & Gruber, A. H. (2017). Is changing footstrike pattern beneficial to runners?. Journal of and Health Science, 6(2), 146-153.
- Derrick, T. R., & Mercer, J. A. (2004). Ground/foot impacts: Measurement, attenuation, and consequences. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(5), 830-831.