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EASY, INTERMEDIATE OR DIFFICULT TRAIL?

Qualifying a hike is naturally easy. Depending on our state of mind, we often do it intuitively. Mild weather conditions, volunteer hiking companions and pleasant landscapes can influence our perception,...

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practice running

Great Tips to Improve your Running Techniques

The theory around how to run well is simple to understand you will see. And the tips that go with it to improve his running technique are pretty easy to put into practice!

Among the must-see running tips, this part is for me paramount. I am convinced of that because I have gone through this process. I personally put a big focus on the technical aspect a few years ago and I saw excellent results. First in terms of injury reduction. Since I started working on the various points of this article, I have not had any injuries. It’s been almost 4 years since I was arrested more than 5 days (it’s also thanks to my method to manage the arrival of a pain that I explained here).

Knowing how to run well is therefore very effective to avoid injuries but not that. Better running is also an extremely powerful base for running faster! Here we go for 10 tips to improve his running technique!

10 tips to improve your running technique

Simple to understand and easy to put into practice does not mean that learning to run well is done overnight. Our body is used to the way we run, we recorded this gesture and repeats it automatically. To run better, it is sometimes necessary to “unlearn” one automatism to record another in the brain. This change can take time and may give the impression of running “weirdly” at first. This feeling is normal and if the correction you make is good, the result will be felt sooner or later.

1 – Look about 50m ahead

We naturally head to where our gaze arises. So you have to avoid looking at your feet at all costs! Our goal is not to go to the ground but forward. In addition, looking at only a few meters in front of you tends to put our weight too much in front of the center of gravity and therefore to overuse the quadriceps. On the other hand, it sends the buttocks back and prevents them from using their powerful muscles to their fullest extent.

 

Be careful with this advice. Of course, you have to look where you are going. Depending on the nature of the ground, especially for trailers, you sometimes have to look right in front of you. But under normal conditions on the road or clear path, try to look 50m in front of you, it’s ideal.

2 – Grow up

To run well, you have to be right… or in any case that your body represents a straight line. And there’s an image that I really like to describe that. Imagine that you are a puppet, that you have a thread hanging in the center of your head. It’s that wire that’s standing up to you. Looking 50m in front of you, you should already have a relatively straight head. But by imagining this thread that holds your head, it’s your whole body that’s going to have to stand up straight.

 

The goal is not to lean too far forward. Even if a slight forward shift is positive to maintain the dynamics of the movement. And above all, you have to avoid leaning backwards, it’s like running with the handbrake! Ideally, we want a shoulder line that is very slightly in front of the center of gravity, as in the photo below. And getting there isn’t just a matter of focusing on his position. It’s a sum of details that we’ll see later so here remember the idea of the thread that holds your head!

3 – Make as little noise as possible

This advice is a direct follow-up to the previous one. You will often hear that you have to try to be “light” when running. I find this way of saying things a little abstract but in absolute it is very true. I prefer to say that you have to “run with as little noise as possible” because it is something that can be applied more easily.

 

By running in a quiet place, you can listen to your stride and see if you make noise every time the foot comes into contact with the ground. You can also just try to feel this because a noisy impact on the ground results in a significant shock wave that you will feel in the leg and back.

 

Trying to reduce this shock wave will significantly reduce the risk of injury. This is a complicated point to improve so don’t be discouraged. Incorporating the exercises I show in this video on full warm-up will allow you to work your foot qualities and thus improve this point.

4 – Take smaller steps

Most runners have a low running rate and make long strides to compensate. This is what I call cushioning shoe syndrome. The cushioning of modern running shoes protects us from the hardness of the ground with every stride. That in itself is a good thing. But the way we run is also transformed. If we take off our shoes and run, we will naturally take smaller steps and have a higher rate. We then make better use of the elasticity of our muscles, tendons and joints to create natural cushioning.

 

In the end we should have a pretty similar way of running with shoes on our feet and running at a rate of at least 170 steps per minute. All the details are in this article, if you want to delve deeper into the subject.

5 – Try to bounce forward, not up

Having a bouncing feeling on the ground is important. The elasticity of our body allows us to reuse some of the energy related to the impact on the ground. What is needed is to concentrate to use as much of this energy as possible to go forward and not upwards. Leaping up with every stride is very inefficient, I know what I’m talking about, before I was a real kangaroo.

 

Trying to keep a relatively low stride, shaving, is the most economical stride in endurance. One image I really like to represent this point is that of a treadmill. The floor represents the strip of the carpet on which we run. We want to accompany the floor and feel like we’re scrolling back and forth with our foot like a carpet.

6 – Relax your hands

It’s more surprising, we rarely talk about hands in the running technique. Yet running with your fists closed, clenched, also causes problems. Running with your hands closed will tend to stretch your shoulders and the rest of your upper body. And as we just saw… it’s bad for anyone who wants to run well! There is no need to run with your hands fully open either. Keep your hands relaxed as when you are at rest.

 

A tip to relax for those who clench their fists? Imagine you’re holding an egg. You don’t want to let it go, but you don’t want to break it either. So you’re going to keep your hands closed, close to your usual gesture but you’re going to have to reduce the pressure you put on it and therefore relax!

7 – Release your shoulders

The arms have a role of accompanist of the movement of the race. But rather than thinking about how your arms can help you run faster, aim to keep them from slowing you down! Many runners have their shoulders outstretched and high (me first). All these tensions are harmful, they will block the upper body and prevent it from fully fulfilling its accompanying role.

 

Try to have your shoulders relaxed, low while keeping an angle of about 90 degrees at the elbow. And watch the little video I put you below, it lasts less than 2′. It shows you in pictures the optimal movement of your shoulders and gives you two tips to release them while running.

8 – Have an arm movement forward

One last point about the arms. Always in order to prevent them from slowing you down, make sure that when moving your arms, your hand goes forward and not to the side. It is especially important to prevent hands from passing beyond the center of your body. A small inward movement is not inconvenient but if your hands cross the center each time, it will really unbalance your stride. 

9 – Don’t think too much about your footwork

Heel or medio-foot attack? This is a subject on which we clearly focus too much. That is why I do not mention it until the end. Yes, a very pronounced heel attack is harmful. But there is no clear evidence that with a so-called medio-foot pose, you would be more effective and you would have less injury.

 

In fact, if you work on all the points mentioned above, there is little chance that a sharp heel attack will still be on the cards in a few months. In short, instead of focusing on the foot-laying itself which is a huge change, try to improve all the details I mention here and your stride will greatly improve, I promise you!

10 – Run, run and run again

Put on your best running shoes! This last advice for running well is simple and does not involve any reflection! I want to remind you that the body is a beautiful machine.  Thus, the simple act of running very regularly tells the body that running is something important. So he will naturally try, unconsciously for us, to do everything to be more efficient to run.

 

The more time passes, the more experience you will have in running, and the more efficient you will be at running. This concept is also known as the “10,000-hour Law.” It would take 10,000 hours of any activity to be really effective in this one. Proof that we will always have something to improve, I know few runners who are close to these 10,000 hours of racing! I’ve been running for almost 15 years… and I only have to get close to 2,500 hours in total if I count correctly.

EASY, INTERMEDIATE OR DIFFICULT TRAIL?

Qualifying a hike is naturally easy. Depending on our state of mind, we often do it intuitively. Mild weather conditions, volunteer hiking companions and pleasant landscapes can influence our perception, as can our physical fitness, the small energy bar or the hot drink taken at the right time. All these elements are small pleasures that soften the steep slopes. Exit the drops of sweat on the forehead, the slippery stretches of trail or the monotonous kilometers between two viewpoints.

 

On the contrary, if one or more sources of well-being do not have the desired quality, our appreciation of the trail can be significantly influenced. Thus, a path described as easy under the sun becomes difficult, or even very difficult, with uncomfortable shoes or in the rain. This is a qualitative dimension that is very evolutionary. The challenge is to separate the qualitative from the quantitative. In other words, to separate the walker’s walk from the trail on which he walked.

 

A few years ago, a trail with the same physical characteristics was easy in Gaspésie National Park, but considered difficult in Oka National Park. This divergent appreciation of the trail was based on the fact that the qualification of the trail was rather a qualification of the hike. The message that park officials wanted to send to hikers was that the most difficult trail was Trail X. At the park level, this can be defended quite well, but across the national park system, it was becoming incomprehensible to hikers.

 

Ideally, the trail manager tries to objectively qualify his trails rather than subjectively qualify them, so that they can provide hikers with the most accurate information possible so that they can make a hiking choice that matches their aspirations. The hiker will then be able to prepare adequately in order to keep a smile throughout his outing.

 

The secret is in the choice of criteria that will make up the classification parameters

 

The Sepaq hiking trails are classified uniformly using an in-house method. It is based on factual criteria such as distance, height difference and travel time.

Hiking – degrees of difficulty

1st – Distance

  • Easy: less than 4 km
  • Intermediate: between 4 km and 10 km
  • Difficult: more than 10 km

2nd – Time

  • Easy: maximum 2 hours
  • Intermediate: maximum 5 hours
  • Difficult: more than 5 hours

3rd – Leveled

  • Intermediate: 100m to 300m
  • Difficult: more than 300m

4th – Slope

  • Easy: less than 10%
  • Intermediate: between 10% and 20%
  • Difficult: more than 20%

Difference between the lowest point and the highest point of a trail.

Of these criteria, it takes a minimum of three to categorize a trail into either category: easy, intermediate or difficult.

As a last resort, the quality of the walking surface and the proximity of trailside services can be considered when classifying a trail.

Easy

  • Accessible to all, without special preparation
  • Uninitiated
  • Slope of 10% or less
  • Distance between two access points of 5 km or less
  • Maximum 2 hours walk
  • Level below 100 m
  • Without specific equipment

Intermediate

  • Accessibility to all, but with preparation
  • Insider hiker
  • Slope of 15% on average
  • Distance between two access points of about 10 km or less
  • Maximum 2 hours to 5 hours walk
  • Level between 100m and 300m
  • Requires water, lunch, some warm clothes
  • Requires wearing a walking shoe

Hard

  • Accessible to a certain category of hikers
  • Very fit insider
  • Steep trail, which can exceed 25% slope in places
  • Distance between two access points of more than 10 km
  • Mountain route, walk surface that can be uncomfortable
  • More than 5 hours of walking
  • Leveled above 300 m
  • Requires water, lunch, some warm clothes, a map and a lamp
  • Requires wearing a walking boot
summit with family

Canadian Summits to Discover with Young Children

Looking for small challenges for the new legs of our adventurers, we discovered several relatively simple and accessible trails for beginners. These 5 summits to discover with young children will certainly allow you to spend pleasant moments with your family.

However, I would advise you to provide a baby carrier or a backpack available for rent, among others in some of the places mentioned below, so that everyone has good memories and fun. You can also read this article which will give you some clues on how to make your kids love hiking.

Children in Canyon

Mount St.Grégoire (251 m) Montérégie

Located, as its name mentions, at Mont-Saint-Grégoire in Montérégie, this mountain is a beautiful way to introduce your young children to hiking in the mountains. With a drop of about 185 m to cross on a trail of 1 km (the panorama) or 1.4 km (career), your children will learn that you have to work a little harder if you want to reach the top. The view from above will allow your children to identify Montreal as well as the Rougemont, Saint-Hilaire and Saint-Bruno Mountains, which in turn will offer them interesting hiking options.

Mount St.Grégoire

Mount Arthabaska (305 m) Central Quebec

Mount Arthabaska is located in central Quebec in beautiful Victoriaville and offers free access to nearly 10 km of hiking trails. Your children can easily reach the summit, taking the trails on the 4th seasons or the Grand Tour, where the Arthabaska Pavilion and an observation lookout await them. The drop of 152 m over about 3 km certainly promises them a great experience. In addition, dogs are allowed provided, of course, that certain basic rules are followed.

Le Mont Arthabaska

Mount Oak (460 m) Boilers-Appalachians

Mount Oak is the smallest of the three Coleraine Mountains, located in the Chaudières-Appalachian region and more specifically in St. Joseph of Coleraine. With 250m to go, it represents the biggest challenge among the suggestions of this article. However, the gentleness of the climb will make your children forget that they work hard. In addition, this 5 km loop offers 16 educational panels on different subjects always related to the territory of the 3 mountains allowing breaks and pleasure along the route.

Mount Oak

Mount Pinacle (675 m)

Mount Pinacle, part of the Harold F. Baldwin Park system, is located in Coaticook, Eastern Townships. A 2km main trail will take you to the top where views of Lake Lyster and the mountain ranges await. A choice of trail of 2 or 3 km is then available to you, depending on the energy level of your children, to descend the 120 m that will take you back to the parking lot of the former barracks of the village of Baldwin. In addition, access to the site is free and dogs are allowed on a leash. A great opportunity to stop at the Coaticook Dairy to enjoy a well-deserved ice cream.

Mont Pinacle

Mount Ernest-Laforce (820 m) Gaspésie

Located in The Gaspeian National Park, Mount Ernest-Laforce will surely amaze your little explorers. This 4.5 km loop of only 155 m of vertical drop will take you to an exceptional view of the highest mountains of the region. A place known for its strong moose presence, your children may have the chance to meet this animal up close. The high altitude and beauty of the place will allow you wonderful family memories.

Mount Ernest-Laforce

Hiking tips

Preparing for a Hike: Here are Some Tips

Trekking-Firendly Shoes:

Before you prepare for your hike, you must of course equip yourself, and it starts with good shoes. It is often advisable to choose a size above its usual size, even if it means layering two pairs of socks. Indeed, during the effort, the feet swell and it is common to find themselves in the narrow, which prevents good blood circulation. 

Of course, before you go several dozen kilometers, make sure you have already used your shoes several times, otherwise beware of light bulbs, which can hurt very badly. Also, the better you will make your shoelaces, the easier your walk will be: logical, in short. When hiking, if you feel moisture in your shoes, change your socks and dry the wet pair directly on your bag. Keep your feet dry: the best way to avoid blisters. 

By the way, there is a cream called Nok, which prepares your skin for regular rubbing. I used it for Compostela (to be applied during the three weeks before departure, on the soles of the feet, heels and crotch), it saved me many problems of blisters and redness. These tips will be enough to benefit you from the many benefits of hiking, on the body but also on the mind.

If you’re going away for several days, when packing your backpack, don’t forget to take a pair of walking sandals to let your feet breathe at the end of the day. Also, during the night, leave your shoes in the open, while wary of the morning dew. It’s best to protect them under your double roof, without locking them in a pastic bag. Similarly, quality socks, made of cotton or wool, are essential, banish low-end acrylic materials that prevent the feet from aerating. Finally, you can try to tal your foot plants: a great way to regulate perspiration (and therefore odors).

Hiking shoes

Trekking Equipment

  • A pair of binoculars to admire nature
  • A camera
  • A rain cape
  • Small freezer bags to protect your equipment from moisture
  • A tube of sunscreen, a pair of glasses and a cap
  • A Swiss knife
  • A small pharmacy kit where you will have thought to put special dressings for blisters, sparadrap and your usual treatments.
  • A roll of toilet paper
  • A lighter
  • Hiking sticks, but only if you take two to balance your walk on rough terrain, because otherwise you clutter up for nothing.
  • Identity papers
  • A phone in case of emergency
  • Some clothes against the cold
  • There are pants (called zip off) that allow you to split in two at the knees, turning into shorts, which is practical and light.

Hiking Backpack

The Backpack, The Hiker’s Bestfriend

Choosing a good backpack is almost as important as 201s. Take it too big, and be sure to bring with you far too many useless deals. On the other hand, it must have the ability to carry everything you really need: for a day, I recommend a bag with a capacity of 20L, which is minimalist but sufficient.

If you’re leaving longer, try not to exceed 45/50L: since you’ll carry all your belongings on your back, try as much as you can to travel light. Preparing a hike effectively means carefully choosing what you put in your bag.

The number and location of the pockets is paramount: you need to be able to store your bottle in an accessible space during your walk, as well as other small useful items. You’ll have to place the rest, heavier, near your back. Since this year, to simplify my walk, I have added to my small equipment a banana bag to slip water and some tinkering: practical, because I now have everything I need regularly at hand, without having to stop to rummage through my big bag!

The bag must have a comfortable belly belt, allowing you to spread your weight on your hips, and not just on your shoulders, which would then tire too quickly, crushed. The area near the back should also be pleasant on contact, and allow air to circulate freely. Also, don’t leave without taking a rain cover with you, even if the weather doesn’t predict bad weather. In case of a downpour, you’ll be happy to keep your belongings dry!

Heatwave and Sport: What you Should Know

Summer has just set in and already several extreme heat warnings have been issued in different parts of Quebec. We are bombarded with public health boards to avoid health problems.

In fact, several recommendations are particularly targeted at athletes as physical activity increases body temperature and prolonged practice in a hot and humid environment increases the risk of exhaustion and heat stroke.

So what should you do when you’re a sportsman in the heat of a heat wave?  Here are some easy-to-follow tips.

Exercising in heat

Choose your activities schedule and training location

It is recommended to train in the early morning or evening when the heat is not too strong. Avoid mid-afternoon, as this is the time of day when temperatures are highest.

If you are a runner, take the opportunity to change your course and discover the undergrowth of your neighborhood, which are shady and cooler places.

Varie your workouts

In general, heat waves are not the best times for high-intensity training. During these periods of heat, it is advisable to adapt the intensity of your activities or replace them with cross-training, such as the practice of a water sport that will allow you to activate while refreshing yourself.

Adapt your clothes and find ways to refresh yourself

It is recommended to wear light and loose clothing that facilitates the evacuation of sweat. This mechanism allows your body to maintain your body temperature at an acceptable level by dissipating the heat produced during exercise.

Also encourage light-coloured clothing, as they reflect the sun’s radiation.

A little extra trick that’s greatly effective: find a way to put ice in a hat you’ll wear on your head or in a scarf attached to your neck, or regularly spray your head, face and neck with fresh water. Your body will be refreshed at once!

Hydrate yourself properly without abusing!

Sweat rates and water requirements vary greatly from person to person depending on the intensity and duration of training, the level of acclimatization, the level of training of individuals, etc. In addition, these needs are also influenced by weather conditions such as high humidity or lack of wind. In this context, it becomes difficult to make specific recommendations for all athletes.

Listen to your body and recognize the symptoms of exhaustion and heat stroke.

Important! If you experience dizziness, dizziness or unusual fatigue, stop training immediately and rest. Be especially on the lookout if you are taking medication, if you have health problems or if you have been sick recently (diarrhea, fever, vomiting).

More severe symptoms may require prompt medical intervention. You can check out this link to learn more.

In conclusion, remember that it is possible to train during a heat wave. Apply a few simple instructions, respect your limits and feel free to rest if you experience exhaustion or discomfort. Your rested body will allow you to do better quality training a little later.

With that in your way, I wish you a wonderful and sporty summer!

electric bikes couple

The Electric Bike: A boost for Your Fitness and Health!

Electric bicycles (E-bikes) are the most used form of transport in the world. This type of transport is currently experiencing an exceptional boom; which is great news! Indeed, the E-bike allows people to practice their sport to get around work or to train, regardless of their physical fitness. The increasing use of active transportation reduces cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Not to mention that active transportation prolongs life, in good health, away from chronic diseases. The E-bike also renews the pleasure of riding and gaining speed, especially on the climb.

E-biking

What is the energy demand of the E-bike?

This issue has been analyzed in several scientific studies in recent years. Several physiological results were compared between those obtained with an E-bike and those of a conventional bicycle (C-bike).  Among the points compared:

  • Oxygen consumption;
  • The energy demand for metabolic equivalents (METS) and total calories expended;
  • The total power output.

Various studies have looked at cyclists of all ages and backgrounds who train indoors and outdoors, on flat terrain as well as on mountain trails. The verdict? The practice of E-bike is associated with an oxygen consumption of about 20% less than that associated with the C-bike.

On the other hand, when riding outdoors, the number of calories burned by C-bike is comparable to that recorded on a partial-assisted E-bike (which requires pedaling). Also, the use of the E-bike would be associated with an average heart rate of only 5 to 8 beats per minute lower than that measured on a C-bike.  However, the difference in the maximum heart rate reached increases in mountainous terrain.

What are the gains on fitness indices?

Regular E-bike practice generates considerable gains on aerobic capacity. Indeed, when comparing the benefits of active transport on inexperienced cyclists, we notice more marked increases in oxygen consumption with the E-bike than with the C-bike. For higher-level cyclists, the gains would be comparable between E-bike and C-bike. This means that experienced cyclists, who benefit from partial electrical assistance, are simply faster… especially in the climbs!

Are there precautions to be taken?

Sports or overuse injuries with an E-bike and a C-bike are not very different. In fact, the E-bike would be the ideal way to start the cycling season since it avoids musculoskeletal injuries related to the fact that on a conventional bike, you have to weigh a little harder on the pedal to move forward.

Also, E-bike is more often practiced on the road than on designated tracks. And users are on average older. As a result, the risk of head injuries is slightly higher with the E-bike. Caution is therefore required.

Bike Precautions

Bring your Tools!

Make sure you’re carrying the right hexagonal keys for your E-bike. Often, the ones that are useful for E-bikes are different from those used for C-bikes. The same goes for spare tires and the air pump… In short, be sure to leave with compatible tools.

The use of the E-bike allows to renew the pleasure of riding in addition to being faster on the road. The beneficial effects on overall health are essentially similar. The E-bike gives a significant advantage in the climbs. Gains on fitness are more pronounced among those who start cycling and on sedentary people. For more experienced cyclists, E-bike increases cruising speed by about 20% for the same cardiovascular demand as a conventional bike. Keep this data in mind, especially if you are trying to follow your bike partner who is equipped with electric assistance.

6 Good Reasons to Use Sticks While Hiking

Improves Walking Pace

When the terrain is hilly, a different walking pace is adopted in the climbs and descents. People often grab their bags uphill by bending forward. Downhill, on the small slippery rock, one expects to slide at every moment, a little on the bright. With sticks, unless the terrain is really steep, the walking pace with 4 supports on the ground is much more uniform. 

We can keep a steady pace of walking in time. Without completely ignoring the terrain, one can almost disconnect and follow a metronome rhythm. This is one of my favorite sensations on the move. When I let my mind go about other things and I swallow without fail many kilometers.

Walking with sticks

Reduces the Effort on Your Joints

This may seem insignificant in a short distance but increase the gradients and the length of the trek and believe me, you will immediately feel the difference because the weight distribution is more homogeneous. Joints are less stressed. During my solo Tour of White Mountain challenge in less than a week this summer (5.5 days), I woke up on the morning of the 4th day with such horrible knee pain that I thought I had to give up. In the end, I was able to continue by mainly deferring the muscular effort on the sticks and using it as a crutch. 

Note that the ideal solution would have been to stop the hike at this point but I wanted to prove to myself that the mind is stronger than the physical. That was the case. Stubborn as a mule. I forced, I finished and I was entitled to more than a month of stopping all physical activity. (very clever, lesson learned. You’ll tell me, it’s like hiking with a bag too heavy to learn through suffering the benefits of light hiking.)

A Supply of Power and Speed

You walk faster with sticks because you also work the upper body. When climbing, you can take advantage of the thrust of its arms that improve traction effort. If your ascent speed is already high, this will keep it longer. If you are a fan of Nordic walking, you know that this increases your average walking speed on flat or false flat. 

In the mountains, it’s the same. Efforts are better distributed. In racing (with backpack), they allow rapid reflexes of support on stable positions with the upper body during changes of trajectories without hindering the movement of the legs and without major loss of speed.

Walking in mountains

Greater Balance and Stability Gain

You have 2 more points of support. With your feet, this gives us 4 stable supports. We could almost compete with the ibex. On slippery terrain, where I sometimes slipped because of mud or small rolling stones, I was very happy to catch up by leaning on my sticks. If you also want to start on a downhill race, the stability brought by sticks will be a big advantage.

Smoothing Difficult Terrains

In other words, it is easier to cross obstacles such as rocks (not requiring climbing) as on the Gr20. Crossing small streams also becomes easy.

Walking Comfort

Your walking posture is more natural, less arched (if you hold your sticks well). They must be at waist height, your elbow at 90 degrees when you stand. In fact you should not walk bent like Nepalese porters if you have sticks with you. A real benefit for your back and spine.