Get Off the Road!
Trail Running Takes Running to New Heights - by Maripet L. Poso
Why do some people love to run? Let us count the ways. Running makes us happy. It is good for the heart, lungs, bones, muscles. In short, it’s good for our health. Running is an instant pick-me-upper and can take a week’s worth of stress away. And most of all, it keeps our body fit and svelte.
Just like any other activity that we do on a regular basis, however, road or track running becomes tedious and monotonous for many that some are getting off the road. Imagine being one with nature, away from the hustle and bustle and taking each trail challenge as it comes while you sweat it out, keeping your mind and body alert… this is what trail running is all about. No wonder it is gaining popularity amongst avid runners in Singapore.
Out of the Comfort Zone
“All these years, the hype of running in a marathon was huge. Eventually, runners began to seek more challenges and prefer to achieve or do something different. They start to look at running off road,” says Hadi Masron, 41, Singapore adventure racer. Expats are also the local runners’ inspiration to try out off-road running. “With more expats working here, some of us began to get out of our comfort zone to see if we can blend and enjoy the trails just like the non-locals do,” adds Hadi.
With race events like Salomon Urban Trail Run and Ace Adventure Challenge, track and road runners are also encouraged to give trail running a try. “Yes, it was more of an introduction to some, but before we knew it, it became the best channel to ‘force’ the elite runners to be versatile,” quips Hadi. The Energizer Night Trail Singapore 2012 which was held last month was a success. This month, on 20th May, Salomon will hold its 14-km trail challenge dubbed as Tiong Bahru Salomon Urban Trail Run 2012, which is cohesively organised by Tiong Bahru Community Centre Management Committee and Tanjong Pagar, Tiong Bahru Community Sports Club. Visit http://salomonx-trailrun.com/urban-trail-run/ for more information on the race.
Although some hardcore trail runners prefer the vast terrains of Malaysia or Indonesia, Singapore offers a variety of parks and nature reserves for trail runners, seasoned or beginners alike, to enjoy. MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve are among the avid trail runners’ favourites.
Because of uneven terrain, steep inclines and descents, challenges and hazards of falling are inevitable in trail running. Hadi advises trail running beginners to invest in a good pair of trail running shoes and hydration packs.
Upping the Health Ante
The number one health concern when running is heel striking. Heel striking is considered dangerous because of the jarring impact it has on the body. Some experts say trail running eliminates this hazard, reducing the impact to joints and muscles when running. “With the impact of each striking on the tarmac road, there is high chance that runners will face injury to their knees or shin,” confirms Hadi. “For trail running, there is no chance to heel strike. Runners will be tuned to lifting their knees high and land forefoot as they face undulating terrain and slopes.”
The uneven landscape also provides additional strength training as your body adapts to keeping upright and stable. Your core muscles and under-utilised muscles in your feet and legs are called into play when there’s some fancy footwork required. Instead of using the same muscles in a repetitive action as you would on the road, trail running makes you vary your stride length to accommodate the terrain.*
“Our muscles will work extra
harder in the trail because we always need to balance each landing,”
explains Hadi. “That also means that the next time we get back on the trail, our body – a combination of muscle memory and trail experience – will make us mentally stronger to face what