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MEC trail video series: Mastering proper trail running technique

Trail running requires a unique combination of skills and technique. We chat with MEC ambassador Jim Willet who helps break down the basics

In the third episode of an ongoing trail running video series in partnership with MEC, we speak to MEC ambassador Jim Willet, a cancer-survivor, ultra-runner and current owner of the fastest-known-time (FKT) on the Bruce Trail.

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Joined by Canadian Running’s Dan Way, Jim presents some essential tips and suggestions for mastering trail running technique. Whether it’s conquering hills, staying safe on single track or just starting out on the trails, this video will help you make the most of your trail running.

Trails can vary from being relatively flat and non-technical to those that feature significant elevation change, unsure footing, obstacles and technical terrain. Depending on the type of trail you’re running, be sure to focus on your footing at all times–avoiding rocks, roots and uneven surfaces–thinking about where your feet will land and creating a safe line to follow.

Running hills, both up and down, is an inevitable part of trail running. When going up it’s important to lean slightly forward from the hips (not the chest), use short fast strides and use your arms and upper body to create additional power and speed. On really steep hills, walking up is actually more efficient (and probably faster) than running and is totally acceptable. Going down is probably the more challenging of tasks and requires keeping your balance, being focused on where your feet will land and trying to avoid excessive braking with the quads by again, increasing your turnover with short, quick strides.

Single track trails refer to those that are narrow, often technical and only allow enough space for running in single file. Passing others can be dangerous and thus when doing so, it’s important to let others know using clear verbal communication.

Now equipped with some basic trail running techniques, tune into the next episode in which we put those skills to use while planning and executing an all-day trail outing.

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