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T³ #007: Scan & Plan!

This Week on Trail Tip Thursday…

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Especially this time of the year, being surrounded by beautiful Fall weather can be such a pretty sight. The colors of the leaves so diverse, crunching underneath your feet. Many animals are scurrying to prepare for colder months. And you are bundling yourself up with a couple extra layers of gear to take on some chilly wind and decreased sunlight; I like the way you think!

This is my favorite time of year to trail run because of those traits (plus some more I won’t dive into today). But by surrounding yourself with such pretty sights to see, your eyes can tend to drift towards ‘daydreaming’ or looking around at the beauty that is around you. When you are driving your car, you have distractions like the radio, your phone (unfortunately), passengers, and other motorists on the road. What happens when you take your eyes away from your lane for more than just a second? Yeah, let’s go with “that is not the best idea if you are looking to stay safe and do it to the best of your ability”.

The Same Holds True When On The Trails

What do you see here? Well, after ignoring my heavy mouth breathing, Brians Butt, and some muffled dialogue, you can see water, rocks, roots, trees, holes, leaves, or hills, and those are all right! The trail running experience is loaded with all of these natural, beautiful elements you don’t always get in towns or cities. But it is important to remember this is not a scenery ‘ooh-and-ah’ type of trip, you need to keep your eyes on the trail to move safely and swiftly. Think of this as your ‘off-road rally car adventure…just a lot slower’. You need to keep your eyes on the trail when moving along, just like you would keep your eyes on the road while driving. Every step you take is going to be different since it’s not a consistent flat surface, so use the most powerful tool your body has to stay balanced and confident; your eyes!

Scan & Plan to Move Like a Nimble Deer

My method is to “Scan & Plan” the upcoming 10 yards ahead of me. I SCAN observing big obstacles coming up, and either aim to avoid them, or if I will use them to my advantage; natural challenges such as big rocks, fallen trees, a stump, etc. Then, I PLAN an imaginary dotted line along the route I want to take. Think of it like the yellow brick road just laying itself out just ahead of you, it helps to stay focused on each step in the moment. Then, as I begin to approach the end of the path I PLANNED, I look ahead to SCAN the next series of potential challenges that are coming my way. In full speed on a ~5% downhill angle, it could look something like this;

(Please excuse my phone camera’s poor action cam). It might seem like a lot at first, but remember, practice and persistence lead to progress. When I was first starting, there was no chance I would even try and attempt this, by trail-vision was not yet trained and practiced. To get the hang of this method, try it on a slow hike, or even a flat run away from road or pavement. Find a local trail or hike route, and even Town parks usually have great routes to run that are not all flat, predictable and consistent terrain. Also, don’t be afraid to step on big rocks or trees if they are in your way. Chances are if they are big enough to try and avoid them, they are stable enough for you to use them on your journey.

If you missed last week’s Trail Tip Thursday, you can read from the link below;

T³ #006: Check Your Ego at the Trailhead


I am always looking for new routes, running partners, and ways to increase my own enjoyment of the outdoors. Does this sound like you too? If you live near the Hudson Valley and want to meet up for an outing, reach out to me on social media and let’s make it happen! If you are further away but still want to enhance your outdoor adventuring, I might know someone in your area that can help guide you, and if not, I’ll do my best from here!

Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed this week’s Trail Tip Thursday! If you want to stay up to date with my coaching, writings, and personal journey, be sure to follow me on social media! Thank you for your support.

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2 thoughts on “T³ #007: Scan & Plan!”

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