If you're going to hit the trails running this spring — here are some great tips for aspiring dirt-track runners.

5 Technique Tips

• Lift ‘em up — to avoid tripping, practice lifting your feet higher than you would on a treadmill or pavement.

• Variety is key — vary your runs by alternating longer, flatter trails with shorter, technical trails.

• Gear up for longer runs: if heading out on multi-hour runs, bring water, fuel (gels), a map, headlamp, first aid supplies and a little bit of cash (bus or taxi fare).

• Don’t hunch over when climbing hills — it restricts your breathing and limits your field of view.

• Know when to walk — even experienced trail runners know when a section is too technical to run through. Repeat after me: walking is OK.

Wildlife 101

What should you do if you encounter wildlife?

Bears: 1. Don’t run, this may provoke chase. 2. Don’t challenge it with eye contact. 3. Speak to the bear in a low, calm voice. 4. Back away slowly, giving the bear a clear avenue of escape. 5. If the bear is vocal and active, it is most likely defensive and is “asking” you to leave — oblige.

Wolves/Coyotes: 1. Stand tall and use a stick or other item(s) to appear larger. 2. Yell or speak loudly at the animal(s). 3. Throw rocks or sticks if it approaches. 4. If with running partners, stick closely together and form a “pack” of your own; move in unison to tell the canines they are not welcome. 5. Back away, but do not run, giving the animal(s) a clear avenue of escape.

Cougars: As above, except ensure you maintain eye contact — at times even baring your teeth — as your intent is to intimidate the cat and make yourself more trouble than you’re worth.

For All: Bear spray, when used properly and within its five-metre range, has been proven 98 per cent effective at warding off bears, cats and canines. Consider carrying some with you in backcountry environments.
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