We mentioned in the previous blog that running and walking off road gives your legs a good break from the stress of hitting the pavement. There are many other benefits to running off road as well, and wheather you’re a beginner or an experienced runner there are different ways that taking to the trails will help you with your training.

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If you are taking your run off the streets and in to the trees you need to plan ahead.

There often aren’t toilets on trails, or any taps to drink from. This is why a lot of trail runners wear backpacks (hydration packs) and take water with them. As for the toilet stops, make sure you go before you run. Take your phone with you; there isn’t as much foot traffic out in the hills and you could be waiting a while for help if you fall and hurt yourself.

Get an idea of the terrain before you head out, and make sure you know what to expect. Will the trail be well marked? Does it have a lot of hills? You don’t need to go in to this with no planning for it to be an adventure!

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Wrights Hill, a steep track but look at the view!

When you are running flat on roads or racing you can get a bit caught up with trying to stick to a certain pace. Your speed off road is going to be quite a bit slower, so try to run by effort and don’t worry about how fast you are going.

The scenery is likely to be great so make sure you stop and take the time to enjoy it. Sometimes the trails can be quite rocky, steep and slippery. Slow right down on these parts and walk so that you don’t end up falling and spraining your ankles, we want you to make it to the start line of Round The Bays in one piece!

When you run or walk off road your body will do a few different things. Your stride will shorted and you’ll take smaller steps. On the trails you’ll activate and engage some of the smaller supporting muscles in your legs, feet and core as your body tries to stabilize itself over the uneven surfaces. You’re likely not using these smaller muscles when you’re running or walking in a straight line on flat road. If you don’t use them your larger muscle groups will always be doing the work. They’ll get tired from being overworked and eventually start to protest which could mean you getting an injury.

This week’s running route

Polhill Trail- Aro Valley to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine (where it use to be)

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We’re getting close to the event now, this trail is uphill so it’s a challenge but it’s fun. It starts in Aro Valley just before Holloway Road and gradually climbs the hill through the bush.

Why it’s good: This trail is very well maintained so you won’t get lost, and if you make it to the top you’ll enjoy some of the best views over Wellington.  There is a water fountain at the bottom of the trail, and lots of great Cafe’s (and bakeries) to visit when you finish your walk or run.
Be mindful of: This is a trail that is shared with Mountain Bikers so be courteous when you pass each other, let them know how many people you have running or walking with you that are further down the trail so that they know what to expect. Watch out for tree roots and rocks, lift your knees a bit higher so you don’t trip over (you need your teeth for smiling for the race photos next month).

After you’ve activated all those new muscle groups it’s a good idea to spend time on stretching. My favourite way to do this is a Yoga class at Les Mills. Make sure you shower off the foliage and mud from the trails first though you don’t want to make like a tree when you leave.

Do you know any great places to run off road in the Wellington area? Leave a comment and let us know!