Hit the Trails This Spring

Spring is the perfect time to channel your inner mountain goat and get trail running ready!

National Product Development Manager at Virgin Active South Africa, Ceri Hannan, has five key pieces of advice for hitting the mountain paths in the best way possible.

Build strength

Trail running differs from road running in that it requires full-body strength. Uneven paths and uncertain terrain requires that runners use their upper body and engage the core for balance, stability and better body positioning. Make sure to incorporate strength training into your workout routine – classes like Virgin Active’s Shape and The Grid offer an ideal way to do just that.

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Give yourself time

Trail runs can be deceptive. Often, they can take double the time of the same distance on a treadmill or on the road. In the first stages, focus on steady pacing instead of speed and set yourself a time limit for the run rather than a fixed distance.

Watch your feet

If you haven’t done a trail run in a while, or are new to trail running, pay extra attention to your foot placement to avoid falling and injury. Pick your line of travel by looking three or four steps ahead of you. The more you run, the less conscious you’ll have to be about looking at the ground. You can also improve your balance by using the Bosu ball or other similar equipment at your nearest Virgin Active health club.

Rest and recover

Don’t overdo it. An injury or muscle strain can end up getting worse or putting you out of action for a while. Start out with a trail run once a week, allowing time for strength training, recovery and rest days in between. On active recovery days, try a spinning class or swimming.


Make sure to use proper sunscreen, wear sunglasses that you feel comfortable running with, have the right footwear and clothing, and don’t forget your water.

Find your nearest Virgin Active health club to start your trail running prep at www.virginactive.co.za

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.