There’s nothing like hitting the trail for an impromptu run. However, problems and injuries can still arise and there is no substitute for experience or common sense. The varying terrain means you need to be alert and aware of your surroundings.
Besides making you feel great, your leg muscles strengthen, your cardio levels improve along with increased elasticity of muscles, ligaments and tendons. Downhill running can be more demanding on the body. The most important factor is watching where you are placing your feet and to lean in to your descent (yet remaining upright as you don’t want to fall on your face.) Tight leg muscles or sore quads is usually the result of over-striding and a sore lower back comes from leaning too far forward.
Injuries are a bore, but don’t ignore them… If your injury persists or is serious, seek medical advice. This can include the services of a physiotherapist, sports doctor or podiatrist. If you are in the hills you may be able to find a cold stream or river in which to immerse the injured part. Immersing tired legs at the end of a run in a cold lake or river can reduce swelling and inflammation in damaged tissues and speed recovery. Ensure you rest and take time out from the trail.
Hands up who’s suffered! Just about everyone… Blisters are caused by friction on feet from wrong-sized shoes, hot conditions etc. Covering these tender points before a run is always a great idea, whether you use a Compeed blister plaster or similar it will reduce friction against the skin and prevent a blister forming or popping.
Yep! If you’ve hit that point then there’s usually nothing you can do about it. Whether it’s from thighs rubbing together or a badly fitting rucksack rubbing against your boney areas - prevention is key, use a lubricant to protect the skin.
There’s no denying how gross they look - If the toenail is painful, it may be necessary to drain the fluid that has built up behind the nail. They are unsightly but usually take care of themselves until they are ready to fall off. They usually occur if shoes are too tight or from running downhill.
Running at high intensity for over an hour can start to drain your carbohydrate stores. Blood glucose is supplied by glycogen stores broken down from the liver and carbs consumed whilst running. Regularly eating small amounts during endurance events is vital to prevent ‘hitting the wall’ - it is important to start eating before you feel hungry. Everyone has their own favourite snack that they can digest while running - try jelly babies, flapjack, energy bars, dried fruit, cake, malt loaf or energy gels.
It’s important to start a run hydrated. Water alone is less effective at rehydrating than an electrolyte-containing drink. Most energy drinks contain electrolytes to replace important salts lost in sweat and help reduce muscle cramps.
Everyone should carry their own personal medications for emergency use, such as inhalers if asthmatic. A basic first aid kit with sterile dressings or bandages and small roll of tape often comes in handy. The most important thing to remember is stay safe and enjoy your run!