Running in different terrains and spectacular environments
12 May 2020

Running in different terrains and spectacular environments

Uphill, downhill, technical climbingsteep mountains, rocky, muddy, soft hills, stones, tricky trails, crossing a river etc…

Running in all those different types of terrains if of course challenging, but also the great beauty of the sport Skyrunning.

Blog by Snezana Djuric, Arduua Frontrunner. Inspired by the book Anatomy of running written by Joe Puleo and Patrick Milroy.

Snezana Djuric, Arduua Frontrunner, Skyrunning training in Serbia

The influence of the terrain and other external factors

As we all know, Skyrunning and Trail-running involves running on different terrains, from soft dirt trails, through forest roads to rocky terrains. This book describes how terrain affects joints, muscles, spine and running efficiency.

Roads vary a lot, from hard concrete roads to soft gravels. This changes the shockwaves and adaptive responses of the locomotor system, especially in the lower extremities.

Adaptation is difficult for runners who do mountain running. They have to climb and descend vertically, and they also have to run diagonally over the slopes. This creates additional forces that affect the ankles, knees, hips and pelvis. As a result, scoliosis of the lower back may result if preparatory measures for this type of running are not taken.

Running on hilly terrain is the ultimate test of the ability of runners to keep their torso upright while running. Spinal flexibility, especially in the lower back, is an advantage because the runner must lean toward the slope as he climbs and lean back as he descends to avoid the center of gravity moving horizontally forward due to running. This means that the hips must be more flexible to compensate for the reduced range of motion in the spinal column caused by the need for the torso to tilt forward.

Although the same muscles are used for running on mountain terrain, the emphasis is shifting from one muscle group to another. Spinal extensor muscle, m.erector spinae and lumbar-femoral muscle, m.iliopsoas – must contract more strongly during the ascent because the tilt of the spine requires more effort to keep it in a stable position than when the torso is in a vertical position. When running downhill, the muscles of the front line of the lower legs and thighs suffer more stress because they have to absorb the action of the forces at the ground, as well as the influence of the force of gravity. The muscles of the leaf and the front of the thigh that serve to climb must be strengthened.

Running on an open earthen track, cross country, is comprehensive enough to host World Championships. Often, it takes place on grassland in parks. True lovers prefer 10 or more kilometers of sticky mud from which they have to pull their feet out with every step :D. Choosing shoes can help with movement, but it does not help the runner to prepare for the increasing effort required to perform every exhausting step compared to foot movements when running on a straight path.

Trail angles and curves are special difficulties that need to be overcome. The runner in the track curve must tilt at the appropriate angle. These exert stress on the lateral outer structure of the lower extremities. The lateral knee ligament and the ankle joint have to withstand the additional pressure generated by the deflection. The inside of the lower leg suffers a similar case. The shoes must also be adapted to absorb external forces.

For all different disciplines, training in conditions that are close to the conditions of the competition is invaluable.

Every training must be based on available training facilities. It is unlikely that a mountain running competitor living in the city will have a suitable training terrain in front of the house. Such an athlete can be prepared using stairs to simulate climbing movements.

All in all, it is very important that you know your goals and training plan. Trainings include running on a straight road, running on hills, running on slopes, and strengthening your muscles, ligaments, flexibility, and stretching. Staying in the mountains is extremely important for runners. Whenever you have the opportunity. Different breathing, different terrains, the focus is on preparations.

All athletes have training on the mountains. Why?

My experience so far, says that the most important thing is to have a goal in front of you and the coach. Trust your coach, be diligent and listen to your body. And learn, always.

And of course, listen to the mountains … ?

/Snezana Djuric, Arduua Frontrunner

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