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Secrets to Survive the Trail Running Digger – Tips from my 3 Year Old

“I attempted to pass a guy heading down a moderate slope and as I passed him I decided to check out the local vegetation as my foot clipped something. I landed on my right shoulder and completed the roll. Did you know there are thorn bushes in this area of the country? I saw them myself.

The guy I attempted to pass said, “You should complete the roll and stand up next time” as he trotted by my carcass on the side of the trail.” – my Grasslands Race Report

If you run on the trails, some day, some run, you may get to experience the digger. The roots, rocks, abrupt elevation changes, visual distractions, mental wondering, tired legs, and night running, are just a few of the elements waiting to send your butt to the ground.

In all honestly, when I typically take a digger, clouds of dirt billow in the air and gear soars in all directions. It becomes a small war zone and isn’t pretty!

To get some advice on how to execute a more graceful and less impactful digger, I went to my coach – my 3.5 year old son Griffin.

Here is a video of one of our indoor training sessions.

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Did you notice the digger difference between us?

Daddy = slightly clunky and awkward.

Griffin = Fluid and more graceful.

Here are a few lessons learned so far:

  • Loose as a goose – Keeping the body less tense during the fall seems to reduce the impact force on any one specific area.
  • Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’ – A slight roll can also reduce the impact forces. If approaching the edge of a cliff, the base of a huge cactus, or some other undesirable object, the roll may be less desirable.
  • The Dust off – Do a quick (or less quick) body scan audit. If the result is an ‘OK’, hop back up and make sure you have all you gear and goodies because you have a journey to finish.

Feel free to share one or more of your most memorable digger experiences. Also, any tips to reduce the digger impact and look good doing it – let’s hear it! Simply add a comment below.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

(Photo: Courtesy of katie grayot.)

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

4 Responses to “Secrets to Survive the Trail Running Digger – Tips from my 3 Year Old”

  1. on 19 Nov 2010 at 4:16 pm Cyndi Newton

    What an adorable instructor! Griffin is a natural. I however, did not have a pile of pillows for my worst “digger” happening. Beautiful spring day. Hadn’t been on any of the trails in a while cause the lake level had been so high you couldn’t make it all the way around the point. Lake had finally dropped enough,that even though you got muddy, you could get through. Got to the third section of the trail that bordered on an open pasture. Nice place to pick up the pace before it turned back into the woods. Next thing I know I’ve upset a very LARGE bumblebee. Who proceeds to chase me into the woods & down in the gully where he didn’t give up till I went underwater. Nothing worse than trying to get out red clay mud after it dries from a 4 mile hike back to the house!

  2. on 20 Nov 2010 at 2:37 pm David Hanenburg

    Dang Cyndi! Interval work and skin exfoliation in one run…now that is a new twist! 🙂

  3. on 03 Dec 2010 at 3:09 pm Blaine Moore

    I agree, he’s a great instructor!

    If you want some evidence for what happens if you don’t follow Griffin’s advice, here are some photos of me from this past Summer after taking a knock to the noggin:

    Thankfully, despite the amount of blood, there was no serious damage.

  4. on 06 Dec 2010 at 2:50 pm David Hanenburg

    Blaine – Glad to hear it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Yikes!